9 Questions with Yoko Kondo
Posted by simon c on 2008 April 9日 Wednesday
Japanese women’s national team is currently competing in the top level World Championships (that Japan qualified for by winning Division I last year) in Harbin, China. It has one game remaining in the 9 team 9 day tournament, and that will be against the hosts China in a likely relegation match that starts at 7pm tonight.
5. Which country do you have the most respect for at the championship, and why?
Canada, because hockey is almost a religion over there. Every player understands what it means to represent your country in competition and has so much pride to be playing for Canada. They have complete professionalism and compete very hard.
6. What player do you respect the most at this championship, and why?
Angela Ruggiero from USA. I saw her play four years ago in Halifax and used her as my model of how I want to play. When she plays, she’s big and she uses her body really well. That’s the kind of player I want to be.
7. What are your impressions of China?
It’s very different. The thing that really stands out is that soon they will have the Summer Olympics in Beijing and you get the impression that all sports are very important here. I think with the Olympics here, people are really starting to support all athletics here in China.
It turns out she played for the Ottawa Raiders of the National Women’s Hockey League (I think it’s a national league again after being split east/west) for one season in 2005-06.
But defence partner Krista Black says that where Kondo really shines is in her speed. “Her best attribute is that she is really quick on her feet. She always gets back on defence.”
And Kondo’s success on the ice, says Olson, has been matched by great success off the ice as well.
“Living here and not having family here, and having to deal with the different culture must be very difficult,” she says. “But she does it somehow.”
Olson spent a year abroad playing hockey in Sweden. While she says adapting to the new culture took time, it was made easier that there were no communication barriers.
“At least in Sweden everyone spoke English, everyone could speak to me in my language,” she says.
“I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have nobody around who speaks your language. I don’t know how she does it.”
Although most out-of-town players live together in one of the Raiders’ two team houses in Manotick, Kondo lives in a basement apartment closer to downtown because getting to practice in Orleans or work in Centretown was too much of a hassle without a car.
Kondo works about 15 to 20 hours a week at a Japanese restaurant on Bank Street.
Mitsu Ichi, the owner, says Kondo came into the restaurant about six months ago asking if they had any openings. He was looking for some help in the kitchen during the lunch shift, so he gave her a chance.
He says she gets along well with other workers and has been a great addition to his staff. “She is very nice, a very nice lady,”
Olson describes Kondo as “very self-sufficient,” but says that since she lives alone, team members take turns picking her up for practices and games on their way from work or from their home in Manotick.
“Anyone would pick her up, because we all appreciate what she is doing, and what she is going through to play for us.”
Good luck in the game tonight to avoid relegation!