By Jessica Chen, TAP-NY External Vice President, with interviews from Randy Yeh, Jesse Hwang, John Hsu, and Jenn Lin

“Football is so exhilarating for me because anything can happen at any given moment.”
“Everyone plays volleyball for the athletic and social/community aspect”
“My love for the game has grown and besides playing basketball, I now enjoy studying the strategy, psychology and statistics behind the game.”
“I was a hardcore Yankees fan and loved watching baseball. One day I thought to myself I don’t want to just watch, I want to play.”

Sports Cards

In addition to holding a multitude of events each month, one of the cornerstones of TAP-NY is our robust athletics program; in the past year alone, we fielded over 30 teams, secured countless playoff berths, and collectively took home 5 league championships.

There’s certainly no shortage of athletes among us, as our basketball, football, softball, and volleyball teams have all showcased strong performances, achieved excellence, and cultivated strong friendships over the years.

With spring seasons starting up soon, this month we are featuring interviews with some of the team captains that lead our players to victory day in and day out. We asked them to answer some questions below!

If you enjoy these interviews, check out our new sports page or our upcoming bowling sports mixer for even more info on our athletics program!

Tell us a little bit about the background/history of your TAP team. How did it get started? What were challenges you faced in the beginning?

Flag Football – Randy Yeh

Credit is due where credit is deserved. I was fortunate to have the Godfather of TAP football, Hubert Tsuhan Paul (former TAP-NY Treasurer), precede me by starting the TAP flag football team a year earlier. He started the team with a scrappy and adventurous group including the Grandfather Chris Wong and Godmother Debra Wang (former TAP-NY Social Chair). I was lucky to just transition into the team captain role after they had already laid the groundwork.

We definitely faced challenges and struggles in the beginning. We often didn’t have enough players to play each season, and I even recall the first football practice I joined, we played in a small hilly field with scraps of grass in Central Park. And with the exception of the first season, we were last place and went 0-6 consecutively for several seasons, only winning when a team forfeited.

So much has changed since that time, largely due to what Hubert, Debra, Joanne Hong (former TAP-NY Social Chair), and Jessica Chen have done for the team. We now have enough players for a few teams, hold organized practices on football fields with flags and cones, and consistently make the playoffs every season, with some 1st place finishes.

In fact, TAP football’s huge success has even convinced Hubert and Debra to move back to New York and get engaged. Our first TAP sports couple! Anything can happen in football.

Football

Volleyball – Jesse Hwang (Former TAP-NY Social Chair)

TAP volleyball started as a new endeavor of the then social chairs, Debra Wang and myself. Our first season was spring 2013, when we finished dead last in the division.

The greatest challenge was getting a group of strangers to play as a team. We had players of varying skill levels and experience, and it took time to bond and build trust. Volleyball is completely a team sport where the team is only as strong as the weakest player. As a team, we had to learn to be patient and help support the development of each individual, always focusing on our goal to build community and not necessarily winning.

I’m proud to say that after our first season, we have always been top four in standings and made the playoffs almost every season

Basketball – John Hsu

In TAP’s first season playing in the basketball league, Fastbreak NYC, the team struggled with an 0-7 season. I joined the next season and we still struggled but in our 4th game we earned our first ever franchise victory! Shout out to Jacqui Wu (former TAP-NY President, current TACL President), who attended the games and supported the team when we struggled during those early seasons.

Softball – Jenn Lin (Former TAP-NY Community Chair)

Our team has progressed a lot since we first started, going from losing almost every game to winning titles.

What is your most memorable team accomplishment over the past seasons?

Flag Football – Randy Yeh

Hands down, our first championship. People always say the first is always the sweetest and no truer words have ever been spoken. As I mentioned before, we struggled in the first few years to the point where players got tired of losing and almost lost motivation to continue playing on the team. However, we started improving, building chemistry and friendships, and winning games. First, some playoffs games, then a few 2nd place finishes, and then finally Team “What She Order Chik-Fil A” won the Championship by 1 point!

I know my teammates and I will never forget the exhilaration and happiness of winning that championship game. It was something we had worked years to achieve and every player on that team (and every team before that) contributed to making that victory possible.

Volleyball – Jesse Hwang

The most memorable accomplishment is growing TAP volleyball to encompass so many teams. It’s rewarding to see how many amazing and active members have heard of TAP through playing volleyball, and have gone on to make great contributions to the TAP community.

Volleyball

Basketball – John Hsu

The most memorable team accomplishment was our first ever franchise win!

Softball – Jenn Lin

In 2015, the TAP softball team won the Commissioner’s Cup for spring co-ed league and the Championship for the summer co-ed league.

What are your team’s favorite bonding activities off-the-field/court?

Flag Football – Randy Yeh

WTF, we hate each other. Jk. That was just a ploy to get you to read further.

I will say the best part of TAP football and TAP sports in general isn’t about winning or the sport itself, but it’s the friendships and bonds that we form off-the-field. I can honestly say that I have met some of my best and lifelong friends through TAP football. I’ll admit that I initially joined the team just to have some folks to play football with, nothing more than that.

But to my surprise, I soon found that my teammates were some of the most interesting, funny, charismatic, and enjoyable people to be around. We starting having team bonding activities playing beer pong, flip cup, and bowling. Then came unofficial get-togethers for people’s birthdays and sadly going-aways.

For many of us, it was no longer relationships based on a common sport, but friendships built on amazing experiences. While I could name all the great activities and fun stuff we’ve done, you will just have to join to find out. Jk. That was just a ploy to make you join.

Volleyball – Jesse Hwang

Eating, drinking, and more volleyball, in that order.

Basketball – John Hsu

Our favorite team activities include eating hotpot, eating the food at TAP’s Chinese New Year banquet, attending the Taste of the Upper West Side and many other things that usually involve food.

Basketball

Softball – Jenn Lin

Our team’s favorite bonding activity off the field is EATING! We almost always find a nearby place to the field post game to eat and talk about what happened in that day’s games.

Who do you consider to be one of the game changers on your team?

Flag Football – Randy Yeh

Too many to single out, so will list briefly:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Christopher Wong. The most veteran of the players, both on the field and in life, Chris has been a dedicated member of the football team since its inception. He always brings a tenacity and fire to the field, and his wisdom is second to none. While his hands may have taken a step back, his mind remains sharp and strong.

Most Spirited: Jessica Chen. This choice was easy and Cheezy, as she is known as. Jess is always firing our team up before and during games. She will reach out to a teammate who made a mistake on the field and cheer them up with kinds words and a smile. Her affable demeanor and competitive spirit are what drive TAP football and draws people to our team year after year.

Coach: Oliver Tsai. He has since retired from TAP football, but you can’t spell football without Big O (and you would need two of them). Oliver inspired our team through his onfield intensity and hardknock approach to football. His encouraging words will ring through our ears forever.

The Wizard: David Tseng aka Harry Potter. We saw David grow up right in front of our own eyes. He joined the team serendipitously as a young 24 year old a few years back. He was quiet in the beginning, shy to the world of strangers before him. But soon, he found in TAP football a family amongst his teammates. He will always be our “Quiet Storm” – the guy you could count on to kindly smile at a girl and then intercept the ball from her.

Volleyball – Jesse Hwang

I believe every player on TAP volleyball is a game changer who brings his/her own contribution to the team. I’m proud to see the TAP community strengthened through sport and competition, and see the relationships that have evolved.

Basketball – John Hsu

The 2nd season was also the first season of most spirited player Vivian Chang. Along with her accurate 3 point shooting, her cheers from the sideline gives the team energy during games and her spirit helps the team bond off the court. She was thoughtful enough to ask to me to help do this profile and that is just one example of what she does for her teammates.

Softball – Jenn Lin

All the players on the team improved tremendously over the years. Everyone contributed to the team’s success.

Softball

Who is your favorite athlete of all time and why?

Flag Football – Randy Yeh

Damn that’s tough. It’s a tie between Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon…but I’ll have to go with MJ. He is the quintessential athlete by every definition – his strength, grace and elegance, dedication to his craft, perseverance, and perfection to the point of near insanity.

Volleyball – Jesse Hwang

Michael Jordan, he’s MJ!

Basketball – John Hsu

My favorite athlete used to be Michael Jordan but Jeremy Lin has now supplanted him. And yes, the fact that Jeremy is Taiwanese American is a major reason why I am a fan.

Softball – Jenn Lin

Derek Jeter. I want to be like him as an athlete – impervious to pressure, consistent, and hard working.

What’s your outlook for the upcoming spring season?

Flag Football – Randy Yeh

I’ve spoken too much. Word count over the limit. My outlook is bright – we hope to be bold and brass this season. With tons of talent, new players and returning veterans, TAP football hopes to bring another championship to the mantle. If we don’t, I have no doubt in my mind we’ll have a blast as we always do and create memories to last a lifetime. And I couldn’t wish for anything more.

Volleyball – Jesse Hwang

I’m excited for every TAP volleyball team, and I know everyone will have a great season when the focus is on community and having fun. Winning is just a natural outcome.

Basketball – John Hsu

We are looking forward to the upcoming season. We are led by former league MVP Will Chu, who averaged 15 points and 5 assists last season. Like Steph Curry, he is a baby faced assassin shooting down opponents from 3 point range. Eric Su runs around the court like a bowling ball, knocking defenders down as he reaches his predetermined location. We will be missing Peter Hastorf’s blocked shots and overall toughness as he travels throughout Asia but Danny Che and Mike Chang have been playing great these past few seasons and we expect more of the same. The team will most likely make the playoffs and hopefully we will play well and make the finals.

Softball – Jenn Lin

This year we will continue to improve on playing together as a team. My goal is for us to be able to deliver our best consistently every game every week.

Wrap-Up

In addition to our sports teams, TAP hosts a variety of sports-related events to help our members stay active. Among these are the annual Summer Olympics, volleyball and basketball open gyms, dragon boat team, dance workshops, sports tournaments, annual ski trip, and much more! There’s a little something for everyone.

If you’d like to learn more about our sport teams and sports-related events, check out our sports page, or come to our upcoming bowling night & sports mixer on Saturday, April 30.