Global soccer star who coached hundreds in San Diego area fighting cancer


An excerpt from the May 12, 2018 San Diego Union-Tribune article, Global soccer star who coached hundreds in San Diego area fighting cancer...

Sure, Coach O would show up. It was 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday. The rain thrashed the morning. A young player wanted to polish soccer skills, to put in the work, to do the little things that form the foundation for bigger things.

Of course, Coach O would show up.

She always has. Until now.

“It wasn’t a sprinkle. It was pouring,” said La Jolla’s Le Huynh, whose daughter Alyssa met Ouying Zhang for the soggy workout. “Basically, she told her that in competitive soccer, you don’t get to choose the weather.

For hundreds of youth players in San Diego County, Coach O’s the kind and committed bridge to improving inside soccer’s mistake-prone classroom. She’s the one who cares enough to work for little while offering a lot. She’s that special blend of patience and persistence.

What few knew, however, was the depth and reach of Coach O’s soccer life in China. They knew she played. They knew she was good. The mostly untold story, for years: Coach O was, as Le described, “the equivalent of Alex Morgan or Carli Lloyd there.”

Few, including former pro player Raffi Ruotolo, realized the full resume of the former captain of the Chinese national team that included three World Cups and two trips to the Olympics.

Why? Because that’s not Coach O. She preaches humility along with the headers.

Ruotolo, a one-time star on the San Diego Sockers, is a director for the massive, 103-team San Diego Soccer Club. Coach O, who worked as an instructor, got word to Ruotolo a month ago that she couldn’t return.

The 42-year-old learned cancer had invaded both lungs.

Read the full article here.