Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Americans We Are Still Discovering: Yi Li

Have you ever met somebody who worked so long and so hard at a sport with very little immediate return to their game only to one day wake-up to discover that this person had become a very solid player?

Did that person approach the game with the meticulousness and thought that rivaled a med student studying how to save lives? Did that person make the perfect leader and coach? Could he surprise and inspire you with his dedication and love for the game?

Meet Yi: Yi wrestled in high school to very little success until his senior year, when his technical skills and knowledge of the sport got him elected captain at Milton Academy. When Yi entered college, he also meticulously studied boxing, getting a punching bag and working on it daily over the span of months to greatly expand his hand speed and accuracy. During his sophomore year of college at Tufts University, Yi brought this same attention to basketball.

When I had met Yi he was a pudgy, goofy class-clown with a little bit of an attitude. He even wrote his college application essay on how he had discovered being a class-clown had gained him popularity. While still quite the jokester, Yi takes more time in his day to display excellent leadership capabilities, serious reflection on life and dedication to his friends.

Yi worked on his love for wrestling, boxing and basketball as well as general fitness over the course of years. While still no Adonis, Yi went from being the pudgy, funny Asian kid to the well-toned athlete he is today. The dedication he displayed during his time wrestling at Milton caused the coaching staff to seek out Yi to join them as an assistant.

Yi brought that same sensibility to the game of basketball. He is the type of player that seems to exert no effort despite setting valuable picks, getting himself into excellent rebounding and defensive positioning, moving his feet on defense, running the court and replacing on offense when the situation calls for it.
He is a true student of the game, and while his career path now has him headed toward an excellent career in internal medicine, he could easily one day make a great coach in either wrestling or basketball if he so chose to (or a poet, because although Yi has not had the opportunity or time to improve upon his craft, he possesses as much natural talent for poetry in his pinky as I do in my whole body.)