BC's Motomochi Movin' On

Delta, BC’s Jonnie Motomochi (R) Hopes To Stay With Coaching Golf After He Lost His Oregon State Coaching Job When His Work Visa Was Denied - Image Courtesy YouTube

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Jonnie Motomochi doesn’t know if he is a victim of Donald Trump’s pledge to crack down on foreigners obtaining visas to work in the United States. He just knows he is out of a job that he loved.

Motomochi, a Delta native, had spent the last four years working as an assistant coach with Oregon State University’s men’s golf team. He got the job after graduating from OSU and spending four years playing collegiate golf for the Beavers.

He recently attempted to renew the visa he needed to keep working in the United States. His application was denied. “I took my petition to the border and I was in customs for a few hours and they denied me,” Motomochi said in an interview.

Motomochi, now 26, was one of British Columbia’s top junior golfers as a teenager. He made headlines back in 2003 when he qualified as a 12-year-old to play in the Canadian Amateur Championship at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club.

He said he doesn’t know if U.S. President Donald Trump's “America First” pronouncements influenced his case. “I will say it wasn’t easy before and he probably made it harder,” Motomochi said. Motomochi last renewed his work visa in 2014 and said he applied for a different type of visa this time because in addition to coaching he was also teaching some golf classes at Oregon State, which is located in Corvallis, about 135 kilometres south of Portland.

Motomochi had gone on to earn his MBA at Oregon State in the hope that would make it easier for him to renew his work visa this year. “I was teaching a couple of golf classes and we were trying to explain it as university teaching and they (U.S. Immigration authorities) didn’t really buy it,” he said.

Motomochi said he wasn’t really surprised when his visa was denied because he had considerable difficulty renewing it in 2014. “I think the guys on the team were surprised but the (head) coach and I were not surprised because we knew what happened before as well,” he said.

Oregon State head coach Jon Reehoorn called the loss of Motomochi a blow to his program. “First, I feel really badly for Jonnie,” Reehoorn said in a telephone interview. “He made the commitment to come down here and finished his Masters degree and we still weren’t able to make it work.

image courtesy twitter

"It's also a big blow to the team. Obviously, we had some success recruiting in the Vancouver area and B.C. kids and Jonnie played a major role in that. He is well respected by the guys on our team and he brings a lot of knowledge and really just brings a lot of energy and passion to work every day. I was very disappointed to lose him.”

Motomochi plans to spend some time caddying for his friend, Riley Wheeldon of Courtenay, on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada circuit this summer. But he very much hopes to remain in coaching in some capacity. “I really want to stay in coaching,” he said. “That is really what I love and have a passion for. I am kind of looking at my options right now. I will figure it out.

“One of the ideas I am kind of floating around is helping juniors get into college. I know so many of the coaches there. I have so many connections I think that would be really good for the juniors and myself. I really want B.C. golf to succeed.”

Reehoorn thinks Motomochi would be a great fit with Golf Canada’s national program. “He has the skills to be a great golf coach,” Reehoorn said. “I really hope that he can do something up there. He can really bring a lot of knowledge and expertise for some young kids to know what the steps are to go to college in the States.

“My hope is that he can find his way to become part of the Canadian national team. I think he could really bring some value to what those guys do. They do an unbelievable job and have produced some great players the last few years, but I think Jonnie would add another dimension to help those kids even more.”