By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. This month, we take a look at the start of the Winter Olympics and a potential landmark hire for the Seattle Seahawks.
The Winter Olympics started at the beginning of February in Beijing, China without fans due to COVID-19 concerns. Yet, the U.S. team is set to compete with the rest of the world’s best.
Gu faces pressure as Olympics begin
Notably, one of the anticipated big stars of the Winter Olympics is an American competing for China. Eileen Gu, a U.S. citizen living in San Francisco, is competing for China in the Free Skiing competition. Known as the “Snow Princess” to many of her Chinese fans, her representation of the host country has brought scrutiny before her at a time when the U.S.-China relations are tense.
Gu, who learned to ski in Lake Tahoe, California, has won several international competitions and is predicted to make the medal platform. The 18-year-old began her competitive skiing career representing the U.S. but then switched affiliations to China a year later.
Gu’s mother is Chinese and father is American. Notably, she utilizes her mother’s surname and chose to represent China because of her altruistic hope that she could inspire young Chinese girls.
Gu is competing in the half-pipe, slopestyle, and big air events at the Olympics. In addition, she has won multiple medals in the youth Olympics, international competition, and X-Games.
She also has a blossoming modeling career and has secured top-tier deals in China. She also scored a 1580 out of 1600 on her SAT and was accepted into Stanford.
Gu understands the stream of questions about her citizenship status. China does not recognize dual citizenship, yet Gu competes for China and says she still is an American. More of a concern are questions about the social and political issues in China. On social media, Gu has supported the Black Lives Matter movement and spoke out against anti-Asian hate. Yet, she has not addressed issues of human rights abuses of Muslims in China or pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. It may be unfair to judge Gu based on what she says or does not say. Then again, she is now under the spotlight and intense pressure to come through with medals for China.
Zhou ruled out of Olympics after positive COVID-19 test
U.S. Olympic ice skating medal hopeful Vincent Zhou was ruled out of competition due to a positive test for COVID-19. As a result, he had to withdraw from competition. The 21-year-old Californian posted a message on Instagram following the news that he had tested positive. Due to the timing of the test, the U.S. will skate with just two representatives: Nathan Chen and Jason Brown.
Zhou noted that he had taken precautions to prevent attaining COVID-19, including isolating himself citing that doing so had “been crushing at times,” adding “just the pain of it all is pretty insane.”
Born to parents originally from China, Zhou grew up in Palo Alto, California.
He began ice skating when he was 5 years old and began training in earnest at the age of 9. He won three national titles in three consecutive years. In 2019, he enrolled at Brown University.
Zhou was the first skater to land a quadruple Lutz jump at the Olympics back in 2018. He placed sixth in the competition just behind Chen. Team USA had high hopes for Zhou and now the pressure lands on Chen and Brown to take home a medal in the men’s competition.
Could Desai coach the Seahawks defense?
The Seattle Seahawks missed the NFL Playoffs for the first time in several years. One of the glaring issues with the team was the inconsistent defensive play. As a result, the Seahawks parted ways with Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton and replaced him with Clint Hurtt. However, in the running for the position was Chicago Bears assistant coach Sean Desai. The Seahawks are still looking to bring Desai in. Notably, Desai is the first Indian American coach in the NFL.
Desai went to Boston University, then to graduate school at Columbia University, and then went to Temple University to earn his Ph.D in education.
At Temple, he was an adjunct professor. It was at Temple where Desai began his football coaching career from 2006-2010. He also had stints at Miami and Boston College before joining the Chicago Bears. In 2020, he became the Bears’ Defensive Coordinator, making him the first Indian American to hold a coordinator position. At 38, he was one of the youngest in this position. However, due to the Bears’ poor record in 2021, he was not retained by the organization after the team fired its head coach.
While no news has come out about Desai’s future, it’s clear that the Seahawks are one of the teams interested in the young coach.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.