Carrying on a family legacy

From the Olympics to the Walnut boys’ varsity team, the spirit of basketball has persisted through three generations of senior Eric Song’s family.

Song’s grandmother played for the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association from 1960 to 1970, and his mother played college basketball at Hei Long Jiang University. Song’s father was a basketball player and the flag-bearer for the Chinese National Team during the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

“I started playing basketball because I saw [my dad] and thought he was a very influential character. There were pictures around the wall with my dad playing basketball so I would see how cool it was to play it,” Song said. “When I was little, he would always tell me that I had to work hard and that inspired me to play basketball. As I got older, he just pushed me more and more and I started training for basketball.”

He cherishes memories of family outings when they would bond while shooting baskets and dribbling on the park courts. As basketball encouraged a healthy relationship in his family through communication, basketball currently helps Song with the challenging relationships of a high schooler.

Song has been playing on the varsity boys’ basketball team since freshman year. Head Coach Joe Khouzam has mentored Song and helped him mature with pep talks during practice throughout his high school years. He has played center for all four years of high school and enjoys it as an opportunity to showcase his leadership skills.

“The center is the anchor of the team. I want to be able to lead the team and make our team successful. I want to be that guy who others count on. In the team you have to be a leader to lead them or else the team will be dysfunctional,” Song said.

His father occasionally takes breaks from his work in China to view his progress and attends several of his games. Song’s grandparents frequently communicate with him over text messaging to see how he is doing, and his mother has attended all the games he has played in high school.

“My mom is very supportive of whatever I do, and she will be there for me no matter what. Everytime I’m on the court to play, she’s always cheering me on, and when I do a move, she’s always like, ‘Good job Eric.’ It [gives me] emotional support and it shows that she cares about me, which really makes me happy. It lets me be myself on the court and lets me know people love me for who I am,” Song said.

Song wants to play basketball since he has been playing for six years and aims to follow in his father’s footsteps to continue the family legacy. If he will not make future basketball teams, he will be playing intramurals and for clubs.

“Whenever I go near a basketball court or have a basketball in my hand, I have an adrenaline rush to play ball. There is a burning feeling inside of me whenever a game is coming up,” Song said. “Playing basketball is really meaningful to me because I get to represent my team and showcase the hard work that I put into the game.”

For Song, basketball serves as a form of self-expression as well as an escape from the stress of school and society. It is a way for him to channel his emotions in a productive way.

“The sport gave me confidence because I can be myself on the court, and I don’t have to let society’s pressure take control. I don’t have to be anyone else. I’m just me. I’m Eric. When I’m on the court, I can let everything go away for a few hours,” Song said.

As the center for the boys’ varsity basketball team, Song has made lasting friendships with his teammates in order to strengthen their teamwork and cooperation. He views his team as a family built on trust.

“Bonding with my teammates just makes us feel closer to each other and the more open you are, the more things we can talk about. I trust them very much because of how we are on and off the court,” Song said. “I don’t need to worry about them because I know we are on the same page.”

Basketball taught Song how to communicate with others effectively. This important skill has helped him to open up and become more outgoing and social towards those around him.

“I was a really shy kid before I got introduced to basketball and as I progressed in basketball I become more open to other people. In order to win and have good teamwork, I had to develop good communication skills, and learn to be open and trust the people I was playing with,” Song said. “The key to a good family relationship is communication and it’s the base of everything. When you communicate and open up to each other, it’s a really healthy way to bond and to talk through problems.”

By Sherman Wu, Staff writer 
Photo by Jeffrey Tran