The best of friends are united again, this time on a V-League team instead of the national team.
Heungkuk Life has been camped out at the training grounds of its Japanese sister club JT Marvels since the 14th of this month, and is conducting its first overseas training camp in five years. On the first day, the team played a scrimmage against Victory and Himeji, and on the 16th, the team began practicing against JT Marvels.
The club explained its season plan by saying, “Through this training camp, we will play as many practice games as possible to complete the offensive triangle centered on Kim Yeon-kyung.”
In addition to retaining Kim, Heungkuk Life has made some big additions this season. Veteran middle blocker Kim Soo-ji returned to her hometown team after six seasons as a free agent this season.
This is the first time the two have played for a team other than the national team. Kim played for Heungkuk from 2013-14 to 2016-17, but before that, Kim Yeon-kyung moved on to play in overseas leagues, so they never saw each other.
Kim and Kim Soo-ji went to elementary, middle, and high school together, so they have spent more than 25 years together. They graduated from Anseo Elementary School, Wongok Middle School, and Hanil-Jeonsan Girls’ High School in Suwon together.
The two, who know their friends better than anyone, cite their commitment to each other as their biggest strength. “I joined the team at the end of July, so we’ve been together for about a month and a half, and I’m looking forward to this season with friends I can rely on,” Kim said through the organization.
Kim Soo-ji also said, “I’m still working on my body, and I can easily get advice on this part. Having someone to rely on is the best part.”
The two have different personalities. Kim Yeon-kyung is known for her friendly personality, while Kim Soo-ji is known for being laid-back and calm. Their different personalities complement each other and have been best friends for more than 20 years.
“Before, I was always the last one (to go somewhere), but now that (Kim) Suji is here, it’s nice that I’m not the last one,” Kim said, somewhat honestly (?).
When Kim Soo Ji continued, “I have to get in so (the car) can leave,” Kim Yeon Kyung replied, “It takes too long to go anywhere because (Kim Soo Ji) is a little slow.” Kim immediately responded, “But you’re always on time,” which drew a laugh.
Both of them have faced countless decisions this season about whether to stay with their teams as they retire or become free agents, and they’ve shared their thoughts and burdens with each other. Now in their mid-30s, they are among the oldest athletes in the game.
“When we meet, we talk a lot about the future,” said Kim, who made headlines last season when she opened up about her retirement, while Kim Soo-ji said, “We’re both older, so we try to experience different things during the off-season when we have the chance.”
We also got to hear some thoughts on the national team’s current struggles with generational change. With ace Kim Yeon-kyung and veteran Kim Soo-ji retiring from the national team, a younger team has struggled on the international stage. The women’s team is currently in Łódź, Poland, for the Paris 2024 Olympic qualifiers.
“The current players are in good physical condition,” says Kim, “but because they play volleyball based on results, they tend to miss details. But that’s also experience, and as it accumulates, we will achieve good results one day,” she said cautiously.온라인바카라
Kim Yeon-kyung, who retired from the national team but helped out as an advisor, also chimed in.
“Of course, it’s not a good feeling, it’s no one else’s business, and we are part of volleyball, so there are always feelings of regret,” he said. “I think it’s true that there will always be regrets, whether it’s in the management or in the operations, (but) I think it’s a process that we have to go through, and it’s a time when we have to work together to make changes that all volleyball players can feel and change.”
Meanwhile, Heungkuk Life will play one more practice match against JT Marvels on the 19th before returning home on the 20th.