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GRIND: 30 Builds a Family of Dawgs

Jul 12, 2023 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Steven Bryla

GRIND:30 owner/coach Michio Takahashi (white shirt) gives Idaho State University pitcher Riley Wickum a chat and a break in between sets on Thursday, July 6.

GRIND: 30 Builds a Family of Dawgs [3 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

YUBA CITY, CA (MPG) - Athletes have all types of coaches and mentors throughout their athletic careers and Michio Takahashi is both on top of numerous other titles for local athletes throughout the area as he is the owner of GRIND:30.

GRIND:30 is a family environment establishment that Takahashi has built within the first five years of being a strength and conditioning coach for multiple athletes throughout Sutter County.

Takahashi expressed to the Dispatch that it started out as just trying to help his nephews get bigger and stronger in the weightroom as he had a home gym for them to come over and be able to work out on a regular basis.

“After we started that, some of their friends wanted to start coming because they saw my nephews getting bigger and stronger,” Takahashi said.

He added that some former athletes from East Nicolaus and Yuba City High School wanted to join the club and he needed to start fundraising some money because he started supplying protein to every athlete that came through his gym.

“I decided to make t-shirts and sell them but had to think of a name to put on the shirt,” Takahashi told the Dispatch.

He liked the idea of everybody bringing the grind aspect to his workouts and said to the Dispatch that the 30 came from the time aspect of seconds so it’s always “grind time” when his workouts are going on.

Takahashi’s learning curve of coaching happened with the help of his cousin, who was a strength and conditioning coach at a four-year institution. He told the Dispatch that he picked the brain of his cousin and reached out to other coaches for different sports because he had a good mix of athletes from different sports and wanted to incorporate/accommodate different sports.

“When I have athletes that go onto the collegiate level, I ask them what they’re doing and how we could have improved workouts with us and I am a constant student to see what everyone is doing,” Takahashi said.

Takahashi is the first one to tell everyone he is not perfect and has made mistakes throughout time, but that also is just like his background. The humbled and open Takahashi expresses himself and treats people as real as you can imagine.

Takahashi said he is currently training upwards of 70-80 athletes at the moment. The Dispatch dropped by one of Takahashi’s training sessions and the instant family environment took effect walking up as his athletes were locked in ready to work, but loose enough to have a good time.

The multiple athletes that the Dispatch talked to religiously enhanced the family environment and supportive ways that Takahashi is there for his athletes.

The family aspect of GRIND:30 takes shape on a daily basis as the GRIND:30 gym is at Takahashi’s home.

“They’re (GRIND:30 athletes) around my family all the time, so they instantly become family to us,” Takahashi said.

2022 Sutter softball alumna Ella Jolley told the Dispatch that she and her sister Avery have been training with Takahashi for four years and continuously come back to train because of everything GRIND:30 offers.

“He (Takahashi) is there every step of the way,” Ella said. “He pushes and motivates you the right way”.

Ella and Avery both transferred from Butte at the end of the season as Ella is transferring to California State University, Fresno and Avery is transferring to Cosumnes River College in the Sacramento area.

Avery told the Dispatch the family environment at GRIND:30 and the consistency of being pushed to get better is rare for people who show that they really care about their job like Takahashi does.

“He looks and treats you more than an athlete, he looks at you like family and pushes you to do your best on everything,” Avery said.

The consistent chatter that the Dispatch heard about Takahashi was the support he gives all of his athletes and it was noticed repeatedly by the Dispatch throughout these past sport seasons.

Takahashi said the biggest thing he hopes his athletes get out of training with them is growing the mental part of their minds with simple everyday occurrences.

“Whether it’s school, boyfriend/girlfriend stuff, you learn to overcome that stuff. So, when they (his athletes) grow mentally and accomplish those goals, I’m happy,” Takahashi said.

The main term that Takahashi refers to his athletes is “They’re DAWGS,” Takahashi said. His definition of a DAWG is a person who handles business in all aspects whether it’s in the classroom or on the playing field.

He added that it also means doing the things you don’t want to do, but when you are doing it, it’s at an elite level.

As this interview was being conducted, 2022 Marysville alumna and current University of Nevada, Reno utility, Maya Larsen hit a personal bench press goal. The group of female athletes during the training session yelled in support and when Larsen successfully did a repetition, screaming, yelling and hugs were given all-around.

2022 Sutter softball alumna Riley Wickum told the Dispatch that she has been coming on and off to GRIND:30 over the last year and has been coming on a daily basis since the beginning of the summer. Wickum played this season at CSU Northridge and is transferring to Idaho State University in the fall.

Wickum said she comes back to the gym to get better on a daily basis and the familiarity of a lot of her former teammates from Sutter train there as well.

“The environment of having my old teammates (2022 Sutter softball) in the same group helps push us because we pushed one another during our high school years,” Wickum said.

She added that Takahashi is always there to support them with anything and has the faith in them to do anything.

Sutter 2024 pitcher/Boise State commit Olivia Bauer and 2024 infielder Nai Garcia expressed to the Dispatch that on top of the many roles Takahashi plays in their lives, mentorship and positive mindsets are consistent throughout the program.

“You are able to achieve a lot when you think positively and are consistently motivated,” Garcia said.

Bauer expressed that Takahashi is more than a coach to the GRIND:30 family.

“Mich has a huge impact on all of our lives, he’s not only a coach to us,” Bauer said. “We can come to him with anything, and he will be honest with us and it’s always nice to have that option to have someone else able to talk too.”

There was another PR hit in front of the Dispatch as Sutter 2024 catcher/infielder and CSU-Sacramento commit Alexa Carino hit a 275-pound back squat.

Carino is in her second year of training with Takahashi, and she told the Dispatch the results she is getting from working out on a consistent basis have helped her get stronger and more confident.

“Usually when you think about working out, it’s like a job,” Carino said. “When you’re here, we’re messing around and having fun, but also getting better”.

Carino is now the single season homerun leader at Sutter after she hit 13 this season as the previous record holder was Ella when she hit 11 in the 2022 spring season.

Carino added that the endless support that Takahashi has shown to her and her fellow athletes in the GRIND:30 program has helped her as a person and shown what a good role model looks like.

Carino told the Dispatch that she chose Sac State because it’s closer to home and she is a family person, so being closer to home with family, friends and the community able to have a shot at watching her play consistently was a big factor. She added that the coaching staff and the environment at Sac State fit her well.

Takahashi’s rule when one of his athletes commits to play at a four-year institution is to get him a pennant so he can hang up in the garage of his gym for all of his athletes to be supportive and see the different institutions some of his athletes have and will be attending. Takahashi has 22 pennants hanging up and that represents 25 athletes that have committed/played for four-year institutions.

Takahashi doesn’t charge his athletes money to train with him, and he doesn’t ask them to pay him.

“When I first started out, I felt like I wasn’t worthy because I needed to build up my knowledge,” Takahashi said.

He added that there are parents who do feel like he is worthy of some payments, and he is appreciative of the contributions but still won’t ask of anyone who trains with him.

Takahashi said he doesn’t charge because he didn’t have a lot of money growing up and was unable to play Pop Warner football, so it’s the least he could do.

“If you can’t come to me, where are you going to be,” Takahashi said.

Takahashi told the Dispatch that if there is an athlete providing income and once they hit that collegiate level, they do not pay him anymore whatever the case is.

“When they reach that goal, they put the work in, they put the grind in and earned it,” Takahashi expressed to the Dispatch.

If you are interested in training or have questions about GRIND:30, he is on Instagram at grind_30 and on Twitter at @grind_30.