AAPI Heritage Month Highlight: Q&A with Koua Yang
Koua Yang is a USTA Northern Board Member and a Summer Program Coordinator at St. Paul Urban Tennis. USTA Nothern spoke with Koua to highlight his background in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
What is your job title and how long have you worked at your current job?
I am currently serving as the Athletic Director for Como Park High School and completing my third year. Previously, I was a Social Studies Teacher and head coach for both the boys and girls tennis teams at Harding High School.
What inspired you to work in the tennis industry?
My journey with tennis started in ninth grade. I had no clue how to play the sport let alone hit the ball. As I became older and slightly wiser, I learned more about the technical and strategic components of the game. Along the way, I realized there was a huge opportunity gap in tennis, especially for kids and families who can not afford lessons. Coaching tennis was the best way I could help bridge the gap.
What's the most exciting part about your job?
My whole career has been centered around providing opportunities for kids. I love seeing kids improve and grow in education and sports.
How has your heritage shaped who you are today?
I am very proud to be Hmong-American. It is interesting to see how the two ethnic/nationality intertwine in history. My father served as a soldier for the CIA in the Secret War. After his death, my mom brought us over to the United States. My humble roots in Southeast Asia remind me how fortunate I am to be in a country with so much potential. Respecting your heritage means honoring the teachings of your greatest teachers and ancestors. In this case, my greatest teacher and hero is my mom. I would not be half the man I am today without her love and support.
What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
Asians have been invisible in this country throughout history. With Asians seen as the model minorities, we are often neglected from discussions surrounding race and equity. With Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we have a small platform to celebrate our culture, people, history and bring to light the social inequities and injustices we face on a daily basis.
What is your favorite tennis memory?
I have two favorite memories. My fondest memories were my years coaching at Harding High School. The kids, coaches, and I shared so many fun and exciting moments that I will cherish forever. My other most favorite memory was coaching my nieces. We would play for hours and then have ice cream afterwards. I am looking forward to creating more memories with my two sons.
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