It's almost the beginning of the school year and for many parents it is time to figure out what extra-curricular activities to get their kids involved in. For my sister, it was cheerleading and dance. For me, it was CYO Basketball and club team tennis. There's plenty of things to keep kids and their parents busy during the school year, but nothing seems as cool as this: Bay Area Asian Sports Dragons.
You don't have to be of Asian ancestry to play (like some leagues which utilize problematic notions of blood quantum) and it's geared towards families! There are tournaments weekly throughout the Bay Area and California. But aside from the fun times, Bob Manolo, for AsianWeek.com, provides a small window into the origins and mission of the league, which is interestingly tied to a local (and national) sports legend. Find out who, by clicking below!
Like many youth leagues...
"The BAAS Dragons mission is simple - to develop young Asian boys and girls physically, psychologically and socially through their basketball program. Members and participants learn to become responsible individuals, accept others, as well as themselves, and learn to accept praise and constructive criticism all in a safe and positive environment. Parent participation is highly encouraged, emphasizing that the time invested in participation with their children will reap great rewards as the children grow and mature."
There is a deep history of Asian basketball leagues in the bay area and throughout California, some born out of racial exclusion from other "mainstream" leagues and many carried on until the present as social spaces for the Asian community to gather and mingle. Many have changed over the years, opening up the participation to non-Asians, as well. But the history of Asian basketball leagues, tracing the genealogy of their origins and the contexts for their emergence, tell many interesting stories about the presence of Chinese and Asians in the making of San Francisco, bay area history beyond well-worn narratives of the gold rush and the laying down of railroad tracks.
In particular, one of the organizers for the Bay Area Asian Sports Dragons, Elena Wong, has a relative that is deep in the history of bay area college sports:
Elena's passion is fueled by the legacy of those before her: her uncle was the late Willie "Woo Woo" Wong, one of the most talented Asian Americans to play high school and collegiate level basketball. Willie's moniker was "USF's little big man," and his skills carried him and his teammates to the National Invitation Tournament, where he was the first Asian American to play at Madison Square Garden.
Who is this "Woo Woo" Wong? In case you don't know, now you know:
Did you ever play in any youth leagues growing up (Asian or non-Asian)? And did you have any fond memories?