By Patrick Cochran/The Guardsman
On the volleyball court Karen Yip is the most animated player on the City College team. The redshirt sophomore is always quick to encourage her teammates, making sure everyone is in the right positions. After she scores or makes a nice play Karen has the most lively celebrations on the court.
Volleyball means a lot to Yip. It not only gives her a fun sport to play, but also has helped integrate her to a foreign country and make friends.
“Of course I would have been a totally different person if I had never played volleyball. It has helped me with so much,” Yip said. “I wouldn’t have met so many different people.”
Another huge benefit of playing volleyball was that it has helped her with learning English communication skills.
“I feel more comfortable talking with natives. My English has improved,” Yip said. “Now I am more comfortable talking to my classmates and teachers.”
Yip first joined the team three years ago when she and a friend heard there were positions available. She had played growing up in Hong Kong, so she was familiar with the sport.
“I started playing when I was 13. My friend was on the team and I was thinking it would be fun,” Yip said. “It’s a fun sport and easy for me because I have strong arms. I used to play badminton and they both have similar movements.”
In Hong Kong Yip continued playing through high school where her school won district and eventually got third place in the playoffs.
Yip’s family waited over ten years to be able to emigrate to the United States. When the time finally came to move, only her, her father and her little sister moved to San Francisco because her mom was unable to find a job in America.
“It was tough not having my mother move with us, and my dad had to move back to Hong Kong after six months because he was unable to find a job in construction,” Yip said. “Being without my parents was rough at first, but once I got more comfortable with my surroundings I became more comfortable.”
City College coach Saga Vae has seen Yip’s development over the past three years and tells a story that illustrates her personal growth during that time period.
“Karen’s first day in weight room with her teammates and she [was] trying to lift some weights and [couldn’t] and [was] stuck for five minutes while crying,” Vae said. “Now she is throwing up weight so easily and encouraging her teammates to lift harder.”
Yip was surrounded by a talented team when she arrived at City College and has been able to use volleyball to her advantage.
“She had a lot of good players to look up to when she first joined the team. Now younger players look up to her,” Vae said. “She has come a long way.
Freshman Gaea Salazar said that Yip has cemented herself as a team leader.
“[She] keeps all of us in check,” Salazar said. “Karen was one of the first sophomores to welcome me to the team. I really appreciated that.”
Salazar believes Yip’s happy personality rubs off on the team.
“[She is] always happy and joking around with us. She has the biggest celebration on the court,” Salazar said. “Even when she needs to motivate her teammates she does it in a nice manner. If we are slacking off she will encourage us with the biggest smile.”