Yale’s ‘The Chubb Fellowship’: Michelle Kwan, Figure Skater, Olympian, and Diplomat

As you all know, I am a fan of figure skater, Olympian and diplomat Michelle Kwan. The last time I saw her, it was for a fundraiser for Vivek Viswanathan, who last year was running for California State Treasurer.

A friend of mine who happens to be a Yale alum had posted the above video of Michelle speaking at Yale as the 2019 Chubb Fellow:

“Michelle Kwan, Chubb Fellow – Spring 2019 will be the honored guest of the Chubb Fellowship and Timothy Dwight College. Ms. Kwan will deliver the Chubb Fellowship Address to talk about her remarkable career as a figure skater as well as her public diplomacy experiences. Details at https://chubbfellowship.com”

Figure skater and Yale freshman Nathan Chan was in attendance – I imagine he helped in someone to get her as a speaker.

I didn’t necessarily learn anything new from the talk that I didn’t know, since I am quite familiar with Michelle’s history in skating (I did see her skate in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics) as well as in public service, but I was quite struck when someone in the audience asked in the first question, what was one of the characteristics that lead to her success, and she had mentioned her being ‘scrappy’ – and explained that being from an immigrant family from Hong Kong, she didn’t come from a well-to-do background, and her dad didn’t graduate from high school and her parents had nothing. So it was Michelle’s scrappiness that helped raise money for coaching, where she had to quit skating at times because lessons were expensive, ice time, as well as equipment and costumes, etc. Michelle was able to get grants as well as supporters, and had to borrow costumes (she even made it to Nationals before getting a coach).

I was struck by her comments since oftentimes, we do think that figure skaters have sponsors or come from well-to-do families, but often they do not – something that the film I, Tonya helped shed light on.

Someone also asked if Michelle was going to run for Senate one day, and she didn’t have any immediate plans to run for public office. But she did say she might help in a future presidential campaign, like she did with Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton as a surrogate outreach coordinator.

Jeremy Lin on Adjusting to Toronto, D-League Experiences, and Kobe Bryant’s Disrespect

Toronto Raptors player Danny Green hosts a show called “Inside the Green Room,” and he recently had on Jeremy Lin, who moved last month to the Raptors from the Atlanta HawksYahoo Sports Canada has posted some of the more interesting sections of that 1 hour session, such as the one above where Danny Green and Jeremy Lin talk about their experiences together on the D League (now called the G League), the NBA’s minor league.  This made me respect Lin and other D League products like Green much much more, as they made little money and had not so great working conditions (as an example – practice getting delayed as a 7th grade volleyball team was still using the court) while they improved enough to make it to the NBA.

I also liked the “behind the scenes” type conversations about life in the NBA described in this segment – little tidbits about how different levels of players have to deal with practice jerseys, adjusting to a new team, and tricks that other players use to their advantage (e.g. Vince Carter chatting up players on the court to distract).   Other interesting parts of the conversation include why Lin has a video production team and Youtube channel – he felt that if he didn’t get his own voice out, other voices which had stereotypical attitudes about Asian Americans would dominate.  I particularly enjoyed him making fun of Cornell University, mocking it as a lower tier Ivy and comparing it to a younger sibling who is jealous of everything (sorry John!).

Here are some pointers to the more interesting parts published in smaller segments:

 

Two Filipino-American skaters will represent Southern California at the 2019 US Figure Skating Championships in Detroit

EDITOR’S NOTE/UPDATE: Aubrey placed second, earning Silver Medal at US Figure Skating Championships. On that strong performance, she received her first international assignment from Team USA, and competed at the 2019 Bavarian Open in Oberstdorf, Germany. Henry placed 7th overall at US Figure Skating Championships. He’s getting ready for the new season after taking some time off for an adventure to Shanghai, China.

By Helen Mendoza

Southern California teens Aubrey Ignacio (15) and Henry Privett-Mendoza (16) will compete next week at the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, MI.  They have a lot in common: a love of skating; big families, and they’re both US Figure Skating novice level competitors. Together, these two Filipino-American skaters are bringing island style and a champion’s grit and determination to the championships.

For Aubrey Ignacio, who was crowned the 2019 Pacific Coast Sectionals Novice Ladies’ Champion in November, this is her first trip to the US Championships.  Aubrey fought through a back injury and faced tough competition to win gold in Utah. “I’m so proud and blessed to have watched Aubrey mature both as a person and a skater this season,” says proud mother Ophelia Ong. Prior to her championship performance in Utah,  Aubrey earned a Silver Medal at the 2019 Southwest Pacific Regional Championships.  In 2018, she was the Southwest Pacific Regional Intermediate Ladies’ Champion.  Aubrey is coached by Amy Evidente and Wendy Olson. Her short program was choreographed by Cindy Stuart. Her long program, a medley of songs from the Broadway show, “On Your Feet: The Musical”, was choreographed by Jamie Isley.

Henry Privett-Mendoza also fought through injuries for much of the 2018-19 season.  “It was tough being hurt,” said Henry. “I had to be really patient, keep working to get better, and trust that it would come together.” That patience and hard work paid off when Henry won the 2019 Southwest Pacific Coast Regional Championship in October and then followed up by placing 2nd at Pacific Coast Sectionals in November.  For Henry, who picked up a US Championship medal in 2015, this is his 5th trip to nationals, qualifying at every level he’s competed. Henry is coached by Robert Taylor and Rudy Galindo. Galindo, a USFS Hall of Fame inductee, is also Henry’s choreographer.

Aubrey represents the All Year Figure Skating Club and Henry skates for the Figure Skating Club of Southern California.  However, together at nationals, they are proud to be part of the great tradition of Southern California skating, and to represent their Mabuhay! heritage. The 2019 Geico US Figure Skating Championships Novice Ladies and Novice Men competitions will be held on January 21-22 at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, MI.  The competition will be live-streamed through the USFSA Fanzone at https://usfigureskatingfanzone.com/.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Helen Mendoza is a film/video producer, writer, and photographer. She is a vocalist and a founding member of Vox Femina Los Angeles. She is also a mother of two and lives in Los Angeles with her wife.

WBUR: Shirley Wang: ‘My Dad’s Friendship With Charles Barkley’

Image courtesy of Shirley Wang, vis-a-vis WBUR.

If you haven’t listened (download the MP3 here) to or read this story, ‘My Dad’s Friendship With Charles Barkley,’ you must – it’s such a heart warming story and made me cry, about a friendship between two people from completely two different worlds – NBA basketball star Charles Barkley and Chinese American Ph.D. immigrant Lin Wang (told by his daughter Shirley Wang) who randomly met at a hotel when both were traveling for work and became close friends:

“”I was on a business trip,” my dad said, “and stayed in one of the hotels and was walking in the lobby, and I saw Charles Barkley.”

“I was in Sacramento speaking at a charity event,” Barkley said.

“So, I just went to say hi and take a picture with him,” my dad said.

“I was just sitting at the bar,” Barkley said. “And me and your dad were the only two people in there. And we just sit down and started talking.”

“He’s a super nice guy,” my dad said.

“And, before we know it, we looked at each other, like, ‘Yo, man, I’m hungry. Let’s go to dinner,’ ” Barkley said. “It turned into a two-hour dinner. And then we actually went back to the bar and just sit there and talked for another couple of hours. And the rest is history.”

My dad and Barkley saw each other again in the bar the next night. And the night after that. At the end of the third night:

“Certainly, I told him I had a good time talking with him, hanging out with him,” my dad said. “He said the same thing to me, and he left the phone number. He said, ‘Whenever you’re in Atlanta, New York City or Phoenix, check out with me. If I’m in town, we’ll hang out and have a good time.’ “”

The story goes on to cover how their friendship grew, how Wang attended Barkley’s mother’s funeral and later, how Barkley attended Wang’s funeral.

What was interesting to hear from Barkley was that he didn’t have that many friends that he he’d want to spend time with:

“Your dad is one of the happiest people I’ve ever met in my life,” Barkley said. “I’m not just saying that — I mean, think about it: It’s fun to be with your friends, you know? ‘Cause, I don’t have that many friends that I want to be around, to be honest with you. I mean, you know a lot of people. But when you go spend time with your friends, it’s a whole different animal.”

“It gives me great memories and great joy to know that I was a friend of his,” Barkley said. “Just hearing about him at the funeral — what he had accomplished and what he was trying to help other people accomplish, just made me even — I wished he bragged more about himself.””

I imagine being famous, it must be pretty difficult to be true friends with someone, always concerned about alternative motives, etc.

Charles Barkley’s Eulogy at Lin Wang’s Funeral

It’s an incredibly heartwarming human story, and could see many of the attributes of Lin Wang in my father’s immigrant story and life.

At the 2018 ESPYs, Chloe Kim wins Best Female Athlete award

If you don’t know what the ESPYs are, it’s an annual sports awards show started and produced by ESPN (originally an abbreviation for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network).

This year, 2018 Gold Olympic snowboarding medalist Chloe Kim won the the Best Female Athlete award.   It’s just the latest achievement for Kim, which includes a hot selling cereal box and getting into Princeton.  If you don’t remember her performance in the Olympics, you can re-watch her final halfpipe run with back-to-back 1080s here.

What’s next for Kim?  It’s not clear if she will go to Princeton, although in clear Asian Dad style, her father would like her to go to college and study hard.

 

 

Shohei Ohtani Makes Long-Awaited Debut; Scheduled to Take Mound Tomorrow

Shohei Ohtani, the “Japanese Babe Ruth,” made his Major League debut Thursday for the Los Angeles Angels against the Oakland Athletics, the American Yakult Swallows.  Ohtani went 1 for 5 as the designated hitter, batting 8th in the 6-5 loss to my favorite team on Opening Day.

Ohtani was the most talked-about player in the off-season.  MLB announced his eligibility to play for an American team in November; he signed with Los Angeles two weeks later, and speculation about how the Angels would or should use him has been non-stop ever since.

Ohtani is a unicorn in the Majors: the first player expected to see regular action as both a pitcher and hitter since Babe Ruth in the 1930s.  As a pitcher, he holds the Nippon Professional Baseball record for the fastest pitch ever thrown (102.5 MPH).  As a hitter, he hit a respectable .286 over five seasons with 48 home runs.

He had a less-than-impressive spring training at the plate and on the mound, leading many to suggest that the Angels were hurrying him along, at least in their expectation to use him as both a pitcher and a hitter.

While Ohtani was in the Opening Day lineup as a DH, he didn’t bat Friday against the left-handed Oakland starter Sean Manaea (Ohtani throws right-handed but hits left-handed), and he’s not in the lineup for today’s game, since he’s scheduled to pitch Sunday.

At least for now, this seems to be the Angels’ plan.  Ohtani is fourth in the pitching rotation and will be eased into his role as a hitter, most likely as a DH but not on days before he pitches, and perhaps with limited action against left-handed pitchers.  Slotting him eighth in the batting order further decreases the pressure to become acclimated to American pitching.

However, pressure will undoubtedly be a constant all season as the Japanese media gives him the Ichiro Suzuki treatment.  Most American fans won’t be watching quite as attentively, but until he explodes into stardom or fizzles as a disapointment, he’ll remain one of 2018’s big stories in the Majors.

Sunday’s game against Oakland is at 1:05 p.m. at the Oakland Coliseum.

Chloe Kim’s Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Box -Sold Out in 7 Hours!

I first heard that Olympic Gold medalist in halfpipe snowboarding Chloe Kim made the cover of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes while watching an interview with her on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, and then later, finding the press release:

“To celebrate Chloe Kim’s Gold Medal win with Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, Kellogg’s® has announced that she will be featured on Gold Medal edition boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes®. Boxes are available in limited quantities for a short time only on KelloggsFamilyRewards.com.

The Gold Medal Edition Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereal box is available on KelloggsFamilyRewards.com, while supplies last. Fans can visit KelloggsFamilyRewards.com for information about how to become a member and order their very own collectible box.”

But I was disappointed to not only learn that this special edition box was only available online, but was already sold out:

“On Wednesday night, the Chloe Kim “Gold Medal” box was announced on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and became available online. It sold out in seven hours, according to Sam Minardi, director of brand marketing at Kellogg Company. “That is a record,” Minardi said in an email.”

I wonder why Kellogg decided to only make this available online! I mean, Nathan Chen’s box made it into retail, and he didn’t even medal (though he was expected to …)

Asian American Commercial Watch: Minute Maid’s #ShibSibs Journey – Maia and Alex Shibutani

https://youtu.be/sCxTokW3310

Congratulations to brother-and-sister duo Maia and Alex Shibutani on winning the Bronze in the 2018 Winter Olympics for Ice Dancing. No doubt, if you’ve been watching the Winter Olympics, you’ve seen this ad, which really doesn’t seem like an ad, highlighting the sibilings’ journey to the Olympics:

“Minute Maid is proud to support Maia and Alex Shibutani on their journey to The Olympic Winter Games. The siblings and teammates know a thing or two about healthy competition, but they also know that the best moments – both on and off the rink – are often shared. Cheers to the #ShibSibs

I had noticed recently that the Shib Sibs had posted a YouTube video seeing for themselves for the first time on some Minute Maid cartons:

So I wound up going to my local grocery store to check out the Minute Maid cartons. However, I could only find three out of the four that they mentioned:

I wonder what the 4th carton is?!?

Also, I had noticed that Intel was one of their sponsors as well, when I noticed on Facebook, Intel congratulating them:

I knew that Intel was an Olympic sponsor, given that they powered the Drone exhibition during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.But I didn’t know that Intel had sponsored any athletes. But a quick Google search came across this press release listing their sponsored Intel athletes (which I thought was kind of an oxymoron …):

  • Ayumu Hirano – Japanese snowboarding phenom and silver medalist in halfpipe at the
    Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
  • Fan Kexin – Chinese short track speedskater and silver medalist in the 1,000 meter at the
    Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
  • Hannah Brandt – Forward on the U.S. women’s Ice Hockey Team and University of Minnesota’s
    all-time points leader.
  • Marissa Brandt – South Korean ice hockey defender and former star at Gustavus Adolphus
    College.
  • Maia and Alex Shibutani – U.S. ice dancing team and current two-time U.S. champions.

It’s interesting that Intel sponsors non-U.S. athletes, but then again, they are a global company with global customers.

Again, congrats to the Shibutanis on winning the Bronze!

Asian American Commercial Watch: Team United & Nathan Chen

While watching the Olympics, I saw this United TV commercial and was surprised to see U.S. figure skater Nathan Chen, since I wasn’t aware that United was one of his sponsors, unlike Kellogg’s, Bridgestone and John Wilson. The super hero-themed commercial itself is a little bit weird if you ask me:

Helping superheroes fly for 38 years. Proud to fly Team USA.

The behind the scenes video on YouTube on how they made the commercial is pretty interesting.

Also, on United’s YouTube channel, they even have a 60 second “origin” video which discusses how Chen got into figure skating:

Congrats to Nathan Chen on his historic performance at the 2018 Winter Olympics!

Asian American Commercial Watch: Visa’s Real Life Events & Chloe Kim

https://youtu.be/yDTYvtUc8Qc

I caught this Visa commercial while watching the Olympics, which is no surprise since Visa is an Olympic sponsor and was pleasantly surprised to see Chloe Kim towards the end of the commercial:

You know faster is better. We’ve got a faster way to pay.   You don’t have to be an Olympic snowboarder like Chloe Kim to shave seconds off your time at checkout. Tap to pay like a champion with your contactless Visa card where you see the Contactless Symbol. #PyeongChang2018 #TeamVisa

And even before the Olympics started, I’ve seen Visa highlight Chloe Kim in some web ads:

I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of Chloe Kim now that she’s an Olympic Gold winner in the halfpipe! Congrats again Chloe – hope to meet you one day!

Warriors Unveil New Look: Chinese Heritage Uniform

Although I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1999, I only started following the NBA and the Golden State Warriors since they signed Jeremy Lin, and after Lin left – with the rise of Stephen Curry. On a demographic percentage basis, the San Francisco Bay Area probably has the largest Asian and Asian American population for any given NBA market – the 2010 census put’s that figure at 23.3%. And we also know that the NBA is huge in China:

“Under Xi, the government has poured money into investments designed to transform China into a soccer superpower on par with Brazil. Yet the National Basketball Association remains by far China’s most popular sports league. According to one recent study that measured online engagement, the NBA is six times more popular in China than the three largest European soccer leagues combined. During the 2017 NBA Finals, more than 190 million Chinese streamed the games on their mobile devices. By contrast, in the U.S., each Finals game averaged 20.4 million viewers, and an additional 430,000 live-streamers.”

So it’s no surprise that the Golden State Warriors and the NBA try to appeal to these fans, and no surprise again that the Warriors reveal a new Chinese heritage uniform:

The 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors will wear Chinese Heritage alternate uniforms for select games during the 2017-18 season as a nod to the strong Chinese culture in the Bay Area, the team announced today. The Warriors will first wear the Chinese Heritage alternate uniforms at home on Thursday, January 25th vs. Minnesota when the team plays the Timberwolves at home. Chinese Heritage merchandise, including hats, shirts and sweatshirts, is available now at warriors.com and will be available at the Warriors Team Store tonight, while Chinese Heritage alternate jerseys for every player on the roster is available for presale at warriors.com.

The Bay Area has the top three out of five Asian populations in the U.S. (Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose) and the new Chinese Heritage alternate uniform pays tribute to that strong Chinese culture and the prosperity that the region and the Warriors have enjoyed. The Chinese characters for prosperity are proudly placed on the waistline of the shorts as the chest logo combines the Golden Gate Bridge and classic symbolism. The suspension bridge detail, that has appeared on previous Warriors uniform Editions, remains on the shorts. “The Bay,” which appears on the front of the jersey, recognizes the importance of the entire Bay Area to the Warriors organization. In coming seasons, the Warriors will continue to use “The Bay” uniform highlighting a variety of heritages special and unique to the Bay Area.

The Warriors are wearing the Chinese Heritage uniform for the following games:

  • Thursday, January 25th vs. Minnesota
  • Saturday, February 24th vs. Oklahoma City
  • Wednesday, February 28th at Washington
  • Thursday, March 8th vs. San Antonio
  • Saturday, March 17th at Phoenix
  • Monday, March 19th at San Antonio
  • Thursday, March 29th vs. Milwaukee
  • Saturday, March 31st at Sacramento
  • Tuesday, April 3rd at Oklahoma City

I’m wouldn’t be surprised if these are sold in China as well.

Let CHENSANITY Begin – Nathan Chen Makes the Cover of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes

When I saw a friend post a photo of her young son with a box of Corn Flakes with Nathan Chen on the cover of the box, I knew I had to see it for myself! Apparently, Kellogg’s thought Chen’s chances of Chen making it to the U.S. Olympic Team was very high, since this was announced last October: “Meet The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hopefuls Who Will Make Up Team Kellogg’s 2018”:

Meet the Team Kellogg’s athletes here and follow the evolution of their stories as they share what gets them started each day. Additionally, the athletes will be featured on their very own Kellogg’s limited-edition cereal boxes, available at grocery retailers nationwide in December.

Reigning 2017 U.S. men’s figure skating champion Nathan Chen focuses on small steps each day in order to attain his larger goals. Whether he sets his sights on lifting more weight or working on choreography during training, he knows that he is one step closer to his dream by accomplishing his daily goals. Nathan will appear on boxes of Corn Flakes®.

When I saw a Facebook friend post “CHEN-SANITY” (as in “LINSANITY”) when Chen won the Gold for the 2018 Championships U.S. Figure Skating Men’s Single and named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team, I thought I should try to make “CHENSANITY” a thing (without the hyphen – I don’t think LINSANITY was ever hyphenated!

Especially since there is another Chen representing the United States in U.S. Figure Skating – Karen Chen! I hope some cereal company puts Karen on the cover of their box in the near future – with her with an Olympic Gold!

But Kellogg’s is not the only sponsor Nathan Chen has. When I was walking around SAP Center in San Jose during the 2018 Championships (“Nationals”), I saw this Bridgestone cutout of him:

Chen is indeed a part of “Team Bridgestone.”

And to no one’s surprise, Nathan Chen apparently endorses ice skates – by the brand, John Wilson:

Best of luck with Chen in the Olympics!