Volleyball without borders

By Ari Yuki
On November 16, 2011

Intramurals offer a chance for Arkansas State students to interact with each other across many borders.

The "Cold Blooded Killers" is one of the intramural volleyball teams. It consists of people from several different countries, including Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Japan and the United States.

The captain of the team, Sarah Cooper, a sophomore of Jonesboro, said she created the team with co-captain, Jin Ming Su, a master of business administration student of Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

According to one of the members of the team, Jumpei Sakagami, a senior sports management major of Tokyo, Japan, the team was created at the beginning of the fall semester for volleyball intramurals, which started Oct. 30.

"The reason we formed this team is that we play volleyball together a lot in the gym, and we know pretty well each other," Su said.

Abdulaziz Alothman of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and a graduate student in the College of Communications, said members of the team have played volleyball together since 2010.

They play for fun every week in the Red Wolf Center.

Cooper said the ASU Red Wolf Center gives students a wonderful opportunity to meet in a place that connects international students with students from the United States.

"Before I went to the gym at ASU, I only knew a handful of people who were not from this country," Cooper said.

She said as she goes to the gym, her circle of friends grows larger.

Those friendships give her and all of her friends a chance to learn from one another about their different cultures, ways of life, and how different everyday living is for each one of them.

Another teammate, Allison Lambert, a sophomore chemistry major of Piggott, has a good example.

Lambert said she met many Arabic students while playing on the intramural team and she learned a few Arabic phrases such as greetings from them.

Lambert also said she has learned a lot about the personalities of people from the Arabic culture.

According to her, one time she was playing a volleyball game just for fun with her friends, including some Arabic people, she and her friends faced a problem with forming teams.

At that time, all of the Arabic men began arguing and it continued for at least fifteen minutes, Lambert said.

"I asked one of my Arabic friends why they were arguing so much. He then explained that in his culture, the men like to always give their opinion when an argument arises," Lambert said.

"They will keep arguing until someone either ends it, or someone wins the discussion."

Su said being a member of the team with American students does help to improve her English skills in listening and speaking.

"Because I am a one of the captains, I also learn leadership, which helps my major, MBA."

Cooper said, though the team has people who speak different languages and come from different cultures, communication between team members is not difficult.

"Language barriers are obvious, but miscommunication among our team is not very different than misunderstandings that occur between people who have the same first language," Cooper said.

"We definitely have moments when we get lost in translation, but through the mutual language of the sport, we usually find a way to communicate in a way that makes sense to everyone," Lambert said.

Members agreed that sports are uniting activities.

"Sports bring people together that are from different backgrounds and races in a way that not many other things have the power to do," Cooper said.

"I think sports are a better tool for communicating without a common language," Sakagami said.

Sakagami added that aiming for victory makes people united, and it is always fun for him.

"Although we come from different backgrounds, we all can lay down the boundaries that people might normally put up and focus on one common goal, which is winning and having fun while doing it," Lambert added.

Alothman mentioned another benefit of playing sports.

"During the semester you get lots of stress, especially if you are a graduate student," Alothman said. "I think playing intramurals is a good thing to clear your mind."

The Cold Blooded Killers have won all four of their practice games and are currently in a tournament that ends Nov. 20.

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