Opportunity

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The day that the Timbers won the MLS Cup. I was down in the locker room to catch this photo.

This was a photo that I had taken on a cold Columbus night in December. December 6th to be exact. It was my sister’s birthday that day too. While I love her to death, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. It was the chance to cover the Timbers when they played in the MLS Cup Final.

This isn’t a post to brag about the fact that the Timbers won or the fact that I was there. But rather, something that I’ve learned over time: Opportunity. Continue reading Opportunity

Refugees

I’m a second generation Vietnamese-American. My parents came to the U.S. in the late 1970s after they had to flee the North Vietnamese when they came into Saigon. Both of them eventually were sponsored by two great families in a small Pennsylvanian town called Oil City, where they were willing to open their homes to individuals who they knew nothing about and to show them love and support. My parents could have been Viet Cong for all the families knew, but they took the risk anyway. I’m so thankful that they did.

As I heard the news break out that many states in the U.S. were closing their borders off to Syrian refugees, it really irked me that they were doing this, giving their reason as “We’re just protecting ourselves from any attacks like the ones in Paris” or “Well, we don’t have the resources to support the homeless citizens here, how can we support these refugees?”

I’m also a Christian. I know Jesus loved everyone, regardless of them being a friend or an enemy. He even said it on his Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:43-45)

Many of these governors proclaim their faiths as Christians. They say they love Jesus and God and give their lives to Him. Yet, their actions clearly don’t speak in the same way they love Him as they reject those that need our help, just because they fear that one of those refugees could be like one of those suicide bombers in Paris.

Jesus didn’t reject his love or choose not to offer his help because they were sick, poor, a prostitute, or anything else for that matter. He didn’t care what someone’s status was. He loved people unconditionally. Even when he was nailed to that cross by his enemies, He told God, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:33-35) If we’re truly followers of Christ, shouldn’t we do the same? Shouldn’t we show the same love to those refugees as much as we do our own friends and family, whether it be through financial aid or even opening our own borders and homes?

The reality of all this is by closing the borders, the enemy wins. Refugees have no place to go and to not give them a place to seek that refuge, the enemy takes pride and joy knowing that. They know their work is being done and their actions have put fear into us. After the attacks on Paris last Friday, French President François Hollande spoke to the mayors of France and told them that they’ll continue to take on 30,000 refugees despite the events and the seeds of doubt. He called it a “humanitarian duty” to help them. He received a resounding ovation. Yet, here we are in the United States, relatively unaffected by those attacks and closing our borders, doing it out of fear.

If we truly say we’re in Christ, then it needs to be more than just saying “I’m a Christian.” We need to show it in our actions as well. These actions, however, are just a slap in the face to not only the principles of this country, but a slap in the face to God as well.

 

EDIT – I guess I should specify more about the two families. The major sponsor was the Lutheran Church, but two families were particularly kind and took in my parents as though they were family.

Why You Should Be Rooting for Olympique Lyonnais Right Now

Soccer has been so much about acquiring and developing the perfect squad: A invincible defense and a dynamic and deadly offense. But in our current age of soccer, the best way to do that? Money. You have a weakness somewhere on the pitch? You buy a player that can fill that gap. However, not every club can afford to spend extravagant amounts of money to buy that star winger like Arsenal did with Alexis Sanchez or a playmaker like Chelsea did with Fabregas. Sometimes, you have to look within your own system to really get that going.

Barcelona comes to mind. With La Masia around, they’ve been able to bring up players like Iniesta, Messi, Xavi, and the likes up to command and be in the top ranks of La Liga and Europe. But as of recent, they’ve went with the “pay big to win” route, acquiring the likes of Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Rakitic to combine with Messi and paying a hefty amount for them.

So it brings up the topic of this post… Why should you be following Olympique Lyonnais?

In a time where we’re so much focused on buying players to meet the immediate needs for clubs and be able to be successful in the top five European leagues, Olympique Lyonnais (or better known as either Les Gones or l’OL) has been a breath of fresh air. It was in a game last season that eight of the players of starting eleven that played came up from the youth ranks. It definitely requires patience (see the first four games of this past season, their elimination from Europa League qualifying to a small Romanian team, and their struggles in UCL this season). However, they finished second in Ligue 1 and secured themselves a place in the Champions League group stage.

It all started with their focus on their academy and developing their youth. Without a management that’s willing to be patient with the process, this wouldn’t be possible. A great article from Andy Brassell covers Jean-Michel Aulas’s vision and changes to the entire structure illustrates why Lyon needed to rely on their youth. With the desire to build a new state-of-the-art 60,000 capacity stadium, they couldn’t afford to maintain high salary profiles or be spending year after year. As a result, it required that they focus on bring up youth into the senior squad over time. Now they’re reaping the rewards of it.

But what’s more important is as a whole for the country. While England struggles to bring up youth for their senior national squad, France have players that they can rely on in the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Corentin Tolisso, Nabil Fekir, and Maxime Gonalons, all products of their system. It’s a formula for success that teams across the world should be looking at, for the sake of their club’s financial health, but also to help with supplying the national team’s future stars.

Lyon hasn’t been under the radar with their progress and development. People have taken notice and have noted as to how teams can take on their approach for healthy growth for their respective clubs. Here’s some great articles to take a look at:

  • http://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/talent-machine-takes-lyon-back-top-can-they-keep-english-hands-their-stars
  • http://frenchfootballweekly.com/2015/02/27/what-arsenal-spurs-and-the-premier-league-can-learn-from-lyon/
  • http://sport360.com/article/european/31624/inside-story-jean-michel-aulas-attempts-rebuild-lyon-within
  • http://www.sportingintelligence.com/2012/12/13/revealed-barcelona-no1-for-producing-players-for-clubs-in-europes-elite-leagues-131201/

It’s not to say that clubs shouldn’t spend money (Lyon spent €5.5 million for Claudio Beauvue, €12 million for Serge Darder this offseason). But ultimately, to have a team like this win a major trophy through primarily off their youth would be great for the game. It’ll give clubs that don’t have that kind of payroll a model to work off of and be able to work their way up the ranks to the top of the table in their respective leagues.

Lyon remains competitive in Ligue 1 this season, as they are in second place behind major spending club Paris Saint-Germain. They continue to be thrifty on their spending compared to most clubs out there. But as 2016 comes around, their youth will come into their new stadium and bring home new silverware and celebrate with the fans that have been loyal throughout this process. Keep an eye out for these kids, or even better, root for their continued success.

Bye 2014… Hello 2015

Ten years ago, I was left with the most morbid memory of my induction into becoming an adult: I sat with my father and one of the employees of the funeral home that we were at in Chicago. The employee was working me through paperwork for my mother’s funeral service. I was still left in shock, trying to recollect the last days that I talked to her at the hospital as she was fighting her last battle with lung cancer. As I signed line after line, those thoughts soon became, “What does life have in store for me now?”

Fast-forward to ten years later, I sit here at the research office, staring blankly at my laptop screen. I never thought that I’d be here, working on trying to detect patients at risk of lung cancer through their medical records through NLP software. Though I can’t turn back time for my mother, I know I can still make an impact in the lives of others through this project.

2014 was definitely one of those years with a lot of reminiscence for me. It was hard for me to admit that my mother had been gone for ten years. Ultimately, those events in Chicago changed my outlook on how I viewed life and also where I am now.

Continue reading Bye 2014… Hello 2015

Random Thoughts – Post-World Cup Final and Clubs

… The night before the quarterfinals, I told my friend, “Whoever came out of the bracket between Brazil, Colombia, France, and Germany victorious would win the World Cup.” My belief there was that they were the four most convincing teams thus far in the tournament. They were assertive in their attack and calm and collected in defense.

… Quarterfinals were just weird. You had another match-up of the counter-attacking teams in Costa Rica vs. the Netherlands. Then you had the two of best European teams in the tournament playing each other in France and Germany. Brazil was up against their CONMEBOL rivals in Colombia. And finally, it was Argentina and Belgium. Continue reading Random Thoughts – Post-World Cup Final and Clubs

Random Thoughts – Post-World Cup Round of 16

… The Brazil/Chile game was really surprising to me. Good chances, good opportunities for both teams, but they weren’t able to capitalize. It was tough to have to see one of the two teams get knocked out via penalty kicks. Julio Cesar still showed he’s among the best in the world in terms of goalkeepers, making two huge saves.

… Neymar playing injured has got to be a concern for Brazil going forward. He’s definitely been their star for the tournament. Even if he’s able to play, him not at 100% will be challenging against the likes of Colombia. Continue reading Random Thoughts – Post-World Cup Round of 16

Random Thoughts – Post-World Cup Group Stage

… So the group stage for the World Cup finals is complete. I was surprised at who made it and who didn’t make it. Anyway, it’s a slow day at work so I figured I’d just jot some thoughts from the group stage and things that I’ve seen during the last 48 games (or at least as many as I could). We’ll see how long this goes. Pretty sure it’ll be pretty long:  Continue reading Random Thoughts – Post-World Cup Group Stage

Managing Coed Soccer

Coed soccer has been a popular sport in the greater Seattle area. I jumped onto the scene seven years ago as a manager of a team consisting of our IMA intramural soccer team at the UW.  It’s undergone a lot of changes, with people coming and going. At one point, it had to go under a complete rework and I had to start all over (had one person returning, but I put in the effort to make it happen). I started to apply the solutions to the mistakes that I made or problems that I dealt with and it’s resulted in probably the most successful team I’ve managed in my seven years as a manager.

As more and more teams are being created, there have been a lot of issues in terms of team composition, retaining players, and dealing with problems that pretty much every coed soccer team has been struggling with: keeping women. I figure I’d start sharing some of my insight to the problems I had to deal with and mistakes that I’ve made and how I went about creating a new team from scratch to having such a successful team today. Continue reading Managing Coed Soccer

Idols, Identity, and Fears

It was the fifth in six years. Another concussion. Most professional athletes don’t get anywhere close to that number in such a short time span. But somehow, I pulled it off. The night after I got the concussion, I went out with some friends to give him the PAX badges I ordered for them. I had other things on my mind, however. Continue reading Idols, Identity, and Fears

A Battle for the Best “Chapelle’s Show” Sketch

I don’t really know how else to describe Dave Chapelle except for the fact that he’s pretty hilarious, even though some of his stuff is… well, I think watching a clip or two can really tell you everything. Weed, liberal use of the n-word, political and racial stereotypes all over the place. It’s still pretty funny regardless. Anyway, a writer for Grantland decided to pit the 64 most viewed sketches in a March Madness bracket. If you haven’t seen some of his stuff, check out the article.