Basketball means connection for Japanese student

by Emily Kauffman – Horizon Features Editor

As I sat IMG_5110across the table from Yui Soshizaki, a freshman from Yokohama, Japan, one thing was immediately clear: She wanted to connect. I watched her as she carefully looked up words on her phone, making sure I understood.

She lights up when you ask her about another source of connection: Hesston College basketball. Smiling, Yui describes playing basketball for the Larks as the most influential experience of her life so far.

She loves her teammates. She loves the game. And she loves being recognized on campus.

“At Thanksgiving many people saw me play so now when I am walking around campus a lot of people say, ‘Hi Yui.’ I am so happy when people remember my name,” she said.

Basketball, she says, is a source of confidence.

“My English and basketball skills have really improved from listening to my coach and teammates,” Yui said. “Sometimes I get into the game and I make a 3-point shot my teammates they tell me ‘good job’ or it was a good shot. They are very encouraging to me.”

Yui says her community has expanded at Hesston.

“Before I came to Hesston I didn’t have any American friends,” she said. “I have made many friends on the basketball team. I am so grateful that I am in the basketball team. I am so proud of my teammates.”

An athletic training major, Yui said her interest in the program developed when she was a child and couldn’t play basketball because of an injury. From that time on she has had a desire to help support athletes who are injured. Freshman Brittany Kramer, a friend and teammate of Yui says she’s been helping her in another way.

“Yui has been trying to teach Mandy [Cockrell] and I how to count to 10 in Japanese,” she said. “It is pretty confusing but she gives us pop quizzes to keep us sharp.”

It’s clear from talking with her friends that Yui is well-loved by her teammates, including Mandy Cockrell, a teammate of Yui’s.

“She loves to joke around and is very supportive of the basketball team and we are supportive of her!”

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