Carol Jue is the only Chinese American head coach for an NCAA team.
The basketball coach at Chapman University in Orange, California was also a member of the Imperials Purple, a women’s team that dominated Japanese American basketball leagues in the 70’s and 80’s.
Many on that team are still active in basketball today. Besides Jue, others are playing in the Orange Coast Sports Association. The Imperials Purple recently held a reunion on the basketball court and the women now in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s beat a team of 20-somethings.
She is one of at least two collegiate coaches who are products of the Japanese American basketball league who’s active in basketball. Rex Walters, who played in the NBA for ten years, until recently coached the men’s basketball team at the University of San Francisco.
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Jue talked to Fusion about the reunion and her time with the Imperials and how times have changed.
“It was hard to be on this team, because at 19 years old I was the youngest one,” said Jue, 47, about her time on the Imperials. “Everyone was about 10 years older than me. But to see how these women took it seriously, who were older than me, that was great.”
Today Jue sees so many more opportunities for girls playing basketball. Many are beginning to play earlier than what was ever thought possible. She has this message for young basketball players.
“You know, back in the day they didn’t have all these leagues. Now you have the training because you started at 5 years old. Not everybody gets that. You’re getting the accolades of that now, of being on your high school or college team, because of the fact that your parents every weekend would take you to basketball or practice or whatever the case may be.”
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