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ASU's Sun Devil culture impresses Chinese coaches

Visitors learn how elite student-athletes combine training, competition and classwork

November 04, 2016

A group of Chinese coaches is learning how Arizona State University’s student-athletes combine intense training with competition and a full slate of classes.

The 96 coaches, who are observing the Sun Devil swimming, basketball and track programs for three months, have seen how efficiency during practices is key.

“I’ve seen the different attitude to athletes here, especially how they manage the trainings,” said Zuo Yufei, head swimming coach at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. “This is something that we need to slowly approach the same way in China.

“I switched my role from a teacher to a student. I’ve seen the training process of a world-class swimming team, which is very helpful to me.”

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

Guo Aimin, a swimming and triathlon coach at China University of Petroleum in Beijing, said she has learned a lot from observing the ASU teams and coaches in action.

“I’ll focus more on controlling technical details, as well as managing students,” she said.

“Elements such as athletics nutrition and medical education need to be included in high-level athletic development in China.”

The program is part of a global-outreach initiative by the Pac-12 to strengthen ties with China. The visit is jointly coordinated by Sun Devil Athletics and Global Launch, ASU’s English-teaching and cultural program for international students and professionals. The coaches are from Federation University Sport China, the governing body for university athletics in China, sort of the equivalent of the NCAA in the United States.

Besides attending team practices, the Chinese coaches have had weekly English lessons and seminars on nutrition, sports medicine and psychology, and academic support. They also presented a program to ASU staff on how they do things in China, according to Majenica Rupe, an international educator with Global Launch, who developed the curriculum for the coaches’ visit. Rupe is a former professional basketball player who played for a year in China.

“What surprised me was how they do team management, strategy and recruiting,” Rupe said. “There were a lot of parallels, and it was so interesting to hear their perspective.”

The Chinese guests have visited sites around Arizona and have especially enjoyed attending games — both for local professional teams and ASU. They are especially impressed by the campus atmosphere, especially the enthusiasm for sports.

Zuo said: “The atmosphere at the football game I watched was shockingly impressive.”

“The Sun Devil culture is everywhere,” Guo said. “This kind of culture development is something missing in my school. I will bring back this atmosphere from what I see and how I feel here.”

Translation provided by Jennifer Zhou, a project coordinator and research assistant for Media Relations and Strategic Communications at ASU.

Top photo: Ya Junli, of Central South University in Hunan Province, watches the ASU swim team's afternoon warm-up on Nov. 1. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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