Go to contents

Korea’s Best Foreign Volleyballer

Posted January. 07, 2006 03:00,   


“There are many beautiful women in Korea. I want to learn Korean and talk to them.”

This season marks the first time in national pro volleyball history that teams have been allowed to hire foreign players. Hyundai Capital’s Sean Rooney (23•206cm, USA) holds the most impressive record among foreign players. He is in first place in league individual rankings with his attack success ratio (53.68 percent), third place in service successes (0.522 per set), and third place in scored points (187 points). Since he came on board, Hyundai Capital has taken the lead in the standings with nine consecutive wins.

Rooney is also popular among ladies. There was once an incident where a teenage girl proposed to him at an autograph signing. He seems to enjoy these reactions from his female fans; however, he expressed the grief over not being able to talk to them due to the language barrier.

This is the first time he has played for a pro league team in a foreign country.

Rooney graduated from Pepperdine University after earning MVP awards twice in 2004 and 2005 at the AAU National Championship. There is no pro volleyball league in the U.S. He chose to come to Korea instead of Italy, another nation where there is a dynamic pro volleyball league.

He decided to come to Korea after learning that Hyundai Capital’s coach Kim Ho-cheol was once a famous setter in Italian volleyball, and that Korean volleyball is known for its precise control of the ball. He figured these factors would help bring up his skill level. When asked how he felt about his decision now, he said, “If I didn’t feel good about coming here, I would have gone to a country where they spoke English.” He added, “I feel good about having such a good run in Korea, and I am enjoying the game.”

He assessed that defense is his weakness. Speaking of Rooney, Kim Ho-cheol said, “He has a good sense of controlling the high balls. He has vast potential.”

He plays beach volleyball in the U.S. during the summer. Beach volleyball has become such a popular sport in the U.S. recently that TV broadcasts and corporate sponsors have flocked to it. He plans to play beach volleyball in the summers in the U.S. and play Korean volleyball during the winters. In other words, his spikes will heat up the sands in the summer and the indoor court in the winter.

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com