Sedrick Chin, a Chinese Jamaican player, took American soccer by storm in the first few weeks of the 2002 season. On Sept. 9, Chin scored two goals and netted two assists in the Boston University Terriers’ 3-1 win over the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. He was named America East Conference’s Rookie of the Week as well as to the National Team of the Week, which includes that week’s top collegiate soccer players in America. Shortly afterwards, Chin was hobbled by various injuries, from which he is still recovering.
Chin’s paternal family immigrated to Jamaica four generations ago from China. He grew up in Annotto Bay, a rural area about 45 minutes northeast of Kingston. The Chin family moved to Annotto Bay long ago, establishing local small businesses such as Chin’s Supermarket and Penny’s Bar and Bakery. As a child, Chin was close to his grandfather, Joseph Chin, who was full Chinese, born in Jamaica and spoke with the same lilting Jamaican accent as Sedrick.
AsianWeek: When did you come to America?
Sedrick Chin: I came to the U.S. in the fall of 2000 because I was offered an opportunity to play soccer and go to school at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. I came here because it’s a bit harder to do both school and sports in Jamaica. For example, I was on the under-17 national team in Jamaica, but I had to leave the team to study for my Caribbean exams (given at the end of 12th grade in Jamaica) which last about two months. The opportunity to do both on scholarship at the Hotchkiss School was great. A lot of my family back home are really proud of me.
AW: How was your adjustment to life in the U.S.?
Chin: First, we don’t have snow in Jamaica. I had seen snow before, once, when the Jamaica U17 team went to France to play the French Junior National team. It was cooold conditions! Here we were trying to warm up for the game wearing baggy clothing and gloves and they [the French Junior National team] were out there practicing in shorts, in their regular uniforms!
AW: What other adjustments did you have to make?
Chin: American culture is very different than ours. Sometimes, Americans can come across as very arrogant. In Jamaica, we are more mellow, we try to enjoy our life and what we are doing. Of course, the difference in the standard of living between here and there, is, well, there’s no comparison. But life there just seemed a lot more peaceful and Jamaican people seem friendlier.
AW: Tell us about your experiences at the Hotchkiss School?
Chin: I made some nice friends at Hotchkiss school. I had several close Asian friends there and at first, they asked me, ‘How come you have the last name Chin and you are from Jamaica?’ or ‘Are you Asian or Jamaican?’ I told them, ‘I’m a mix.’ However, in Jamaica, many people identify me as Chinese because of my last name and complexion.
AW: Do you know much about Chinese culture?
Chin: No, just a little. But it’s the same way with many Chinese in Jamaica. They’re just Jamaicans and mix in with everyone.
AW: How about your adjustment to American soccer? What are the differences that you see between American and Jamaican soccer?
Chin: The American game is more aggressive and physical. There’s a lot more running in American soccer than in Jamaica, however, I think that the game here is less technical. American soccer has less of a focus on individual skills and pure athletic ability than in Jamaica.
AW: What have you done to adjust your “game” to American soccer?
Chin: Basically, I tried to get stronger which will make me more mobile and resistant to injuries. American soccer is also rougher than in Jamaica so the added strength and fitness definitely helps.
AW: Which style do you prefer?
Chin: I don’t really have a preference. In order to be a really good player and to have a good future in the sport, you need to be able to play both styles — that is, play rough at times, and exhibit your skills.
AW: Tell us about your first season at BU?
Chin: Well, I came in and did pretty well at the beginning of the season. I’m a freshman and I started as a midfielder, which means that you play both offense and defense. About five games into the season, I injured my ankle. Then, when I came back, I injured my abdominal area. I still haven’t fully recovered from the abdominal injury and surgery. Right now, I am doing light running, weight lifting and physical therapy. I was only able to play in nine games out of 18 this season for Boston University.
AW: What are your goals next season?
Chin: I hope to score about 13-14 goals and get maybe 10 assists. I am also trying to improve my defense. I’d always been able to play offense, but now I have to try to improve my defensive play. I’m also lifting weights so that I can build up more strength and stamina.
This August, BU is going to go to England to play some preseason games and I’m really looking forward to that. There’s a lot of Jamaicans in the professional leagues in England and we follow the local boys who’ve made it to the “big” leagues. It’s the dream of most Jamaican kids who grow up playing soccer to play in the professional leagues in England, Spain or France.
AW: Will you be playing for Jamaica’s National Team anytime soon?
Chin: I might. One of my biggest dreams has been to play for Jamaica in the “Office,” which is our name for the national stadium in Kingston. I’d love to see 35,000 Jamaican fans dressed in yellow and green and waving the flag when my name is announced as one of the “ReggaeBoyz.” In the future, I’d like to play professional soccer in Europe.