By Jason Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this month’s edition, we take a look at a Seahawks rookie running back, a historic meeting between two Asian American managers, and Kim Ng, who led the Marlins to the playoffs.
Seahawks rookie RB making impact
Zach Charbonnet was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft this past year by the Seattle Seahawks and is making his presence known. Charbonnet, whose mother is part Cambodian and Chinese, immigrated to the United States from France. His father is Black.
Charbonnet grew up in California, but went to play college football at the University of Michigan from 2019-2020. He then transferred to be closer to home and played at UCLA from 2021-2022. At UCLA, Charbonnet was a Second-Team All-American and a First Team All-Pac 12 in 2022.
His mother stressed humbleness, respect, and commitment. When he was still a much-touted high school star, she told an LA Times reporter her sayings to her son that explained his philosophy.
“The school takes care of academics. Parents take care of character.” Also, “Respect is earned. That’s being called a role model.”
Charbonnet’s parents didn’t let him play football until the 7th grade, but once he made it on the field, he fell in love with the sport.
So far, Charbonnet’s role with the Seahawks has been backing up Kenneth Walker III. However, he is starting to see his role expand within the offense and one might expect it based on his strong start. In the game against the Carolina Panthers, Charbonnet carried the ball nine times for 46 yards and it included a run near the goal line in which he lowered his shoulder and plowed the defender several yards back.
The 22-year-old is just the second Cambodian American to play in the NFL. Jojo McIntosh, a former University of Washington defensive back who now plays for the Washington Commanders, is the first.
Dodgers-Giants share a first
On the second-to-the-last day of the MLB season, Dave Roberts, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, faced San Francisco Giants’ acting manager, Kai Correa. It was believed to be the first time that two managers or coaches of Asian descent faced off against one another in any of the four major U.S. sports (baseball, football, hockey, and basketball).
Earlier in the week, the Giants fired its manager, Gabe Kapler, and Correa stepped in to finish out the season. The Giants failed to make the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Correa, who played college baseball at the University of Puget Sound and was the team’s bench coach, took over for the final three games. The 35-year-old is originally from Hawaii and is part Native Hawaiian, part Portuguese, and part Japanese.
Roberts, the Dodgers manager, is part Korean. Despite Roberts being good friends with Kapler, he realized the magnitude of the meeting.
“For me as an Asian American to be able to exchange lineup cards with Kai, I’m proud of him and what he’s done and what he’s doing.”
Correa stated, “I’m glad I got to have that moment,” in reflection to sharing the honor with Roberts.
Marlins make the playoffs under first year for GM Ng
Kim Ng became the first Asian American and female general manager (GM) in Major League Baseball when she was chosen for the position in November 2020. In her third season in control, she has her team in the playoffs for the first time in a full season since 2003. The Marlins did make the postseason during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
In her welcoming press conference in 2020, she announceeed, “Failure is not an option.” After clinching a playoff spot on the last weekend of the regular season, Ng recalled the quote and stated that it “really has come full circle, and that’s where it needed to get to. And so we’re here, but we still have more work to do.”
Ng has made some strategic trades to upgrade the baseball team to make it into the playoffs, including acquiring two-time batting champion Luis Arraez and starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo. She also hired first-time manager Skip Schumaker to take over the helm. With the help of Schumaker, they have made the team a close group and built a winning culture.
The Marlins face the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the MLB Playoffs, which start on Oct. 3.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.