The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Competing to connect

Community members share their experiences and thoughts on the networking aspect of sports

MVHS parent Lee Nguyen says that the heightened emotions his customer felt heavily contributed to them closing a business deal over dinner. They had just played a golf match together to discuss the deal and the customer, an amateur golfer, had accomplished an impressive feat — an eagle. Scoring on a golf hole two strokes under par, this rare occurrence brought him satisfaction and while business deals are rational decisions, Nguyen points out that emotion plays a role, which is where sports come in.

“People tend to not open up when you are at work,” Nguyen said. “But when you go outside and play sports, they show their private side as well as professional side. They tend to have deeper conversations and are more likely to [open up] about their opportunities.”

Although now retired, during his career, sports allowed Nguyen to get in touch with various people and opened the door to new employment and business opportunities. Nguyen started off playing basketball games with his coworkers over the weekend.

Through this, he started to see the appeal in it — not only was he able to have leisure time with his colleagues, but he was also able to network with employees from other companies when they played games against each other and went out to eat afterwards. When he was younger, he didn’t express a keen interest in sports, but he saw it as useful for both his personal and business life as he grew older.

Unlike Nguyen, MVHS parent April Huang doesn’t participate in any sports to network due to the nature of her profession as an elementary school teacher. However, when she was younger, she was part of her high school’s tennis and badminton teams and saw sports’ potential for the development of important life skills such as collaboration, communication and resiliency. Through her experiences, she recognized the value of involving her children in sports and signed them up for sports such as dance, gymnastics, swimming and taekwondo.

Nguyen agrees that developing these skills early on is worthwhile because it’s harder to learn something later on and put it to use simultaneously. When he enrolled his son in tennis and golf lessons at the age of six, Nguyen saw it as a way for his son to be physically active and build a new skill, but also considered the networking aspect of the sport.

Although two of Huang’s children stopped their sports endeavors due to lack of interest and because Huang believed that it was ultimately not worth the energy, time or money to push them to continue, her older daughter was passionate about dance and continued to attend classes. Huang encourages parents to sign their kids up for sports to build friendships, and through taking her daughter to classes, she saw that parental networking was also vital.

“If you stay with one sports league or company, then you will know the system and the parents a little more and the kids know each other and grow up together,” Huang said. “When parents bring their kids to an activity, we have to sit around and wait, so you network and talk to each other and it’s helpful for parents to meet other parents and have kids of the same age and same interests.”
While her daughter was on the MV Dance Team, Huang and the MVDT parents worked together to set up fundraisers for the team and traveled to Los Angeles for a competition. Huang saw how the parents were able to build a tighter-knit community. Connecting with other parents is just one of the positives of sports, and Nguyen believes that these skills can be employed in business situations. However, Nguyen also finds that someone’s playing style can impact how successful they are with networking.

“Sports have two things that are critical,” Nguyen said. “Number one, it shows that you are a team player and that you understand how to work with different kinds of people. For example, a guy I play golf with likes the way I play, so he introduces me to his friends, and his friends introduce me to their friends and that’s how I expand my network. The second is that whether it’s a team sport or individual sport, you have some kind of etiquette to the game to show your personality of how hard you work, how much you care about certain things that you do and your commitment. People like to do business with people who are responsible, pay attention to details and have fun at the same time.”

Having fun in a sport is also something that senior and Varsity Girls Golf member Catherine Chen thinks is important, and she sees how she is able to bond with members on her team as well as other teams due to the sport’s relaxed and slow-paced environment. Similar to Nguyen, Chen’s dad picked up golf after his coworkers invited him to play, leading him to sign Chen up, who was in middle school at the time, for golf lessons as well. She has pursued the sport ever since and notes the benefits of knowing golf in a professional setting.

“One day, if I work at a corporate job and people invite me to play golf, then I can go and I can meet new people through the sport as well,” Chen said. “When you play on a golf course, you’re forced to play in groups. And depending on how long the course is, it’ll take about three to four hours and if you’re stuck with the same group of people, you’re bound to have some kind of conversation.”

Since Chen’s dad has also taken an interest in golf, he wanted someone to play golf with, so Chen and her younger brother became his golf buddies. Every weekend, they go to the Blackberry Farm golf course, and Chen finds satisfaction in the small joys of beating her dad and brother.

Meanwhile, Nguyen’s golf buddies are his friends, whom he plays with four times a week. He also plays tennis five times a week with them, and since he’s retired, he’s able to spend more time outdoors and remain active. Through WhatsApp groups, they gauge others’ availability to play tennis or golf and pursue the sports as a more recreational hobby. Nguyen believes that these skills gained from playing sports can be used professionally.

“You take your hobbies as tools to your professional life,” Nguyen said. “Everything that you know, it’s a tool. Whether you drive a car or you play a sport, it’s a tool. When you know how to play sports, you enjoy the game as a hobby either now or later when you retire, or it also can be a tool for you to get to know different people to find an opportunity whether it’s employment, business and so on.”

About the Contributors
Lily Jiang, Sports Editor
Lily is currently a junior and sports editor for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys playing her violin, binging shows and playing with her dog.
Kalyani Puthenpurayil, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Kalyani is currently a senior and a co-editor-in-chief for El Estoque. She previously served as a sports editor and is a midfielder on the field hockey team at MVHS. In her free time, she likes to read, listen to music and spend time with her little brothers and friends.
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