Ten-year pro middle blocker Woo Sang-jo takes the word “challenge” to heart as he puts himself to the test every day.안전놀이터
He compensates for his lack of talent with hard work and chooses to seek out that day rather than wait for ‘spring’ to arrive.
He prepared for every season with this mindset. Woo has been working harder than most to bring the same mindset, attitude, and demeanor to the upcoming 2023-24 season.
Woo made his professional debut in a KEPCO uniform as a second-round pick in 2014, and has been with KB Insurance since 2019 after playing for Hyundai Capital and Woori Card.
After playing for four teams, he’s now in a position in the V-League where there are more younger players than older ones.
Over time, his attitude toward the season has changed. “When I first entered the professional stage, I was full of good feelings at the thought of being selected,” Woo said on Sunday in Donghae, Gangwon Province, where KB Insurance is in the midst of its training camp. “As the years went by, I learned from my seniors, and I realized what was important and necessary as I thought about and tried to survive as a professional player even if I couldn’t play.”
Woo missed the 2018-19 and 2020-21 seasons due to injury and military service. Other than that, he has played 90 games in seven seasons. He played 30 games for Woori Card in 2017-18, but spent most of his time in a supporting role rather than a starring role.
Even one game is good. Knowing how precious every moment on the court can be, Woosangjo has to beat himself up every day because he knows that opportunities don’t just come along.
“I know I’m not as good as other players, so I put in a lot of effort. I’ve also had fewer injuries, so I’ve been training when others are resting to keep my body in shape so that I don’t have to face the same situation.”
“Even our captain, (Jung) Min-soo, tells us, ‘Train in moderation,’ but I’m afraid of getting injured again, so I don’t stop training even on days when others are off. Perhaps this sincerity is one of the reasons why he is still surviving in the professional arena.”
Woo Sang-jo’s strength is his fastball. His blocking is somewhat lacking, but his offense is considered competitive. It was because of his offense that he tried to change his position to an apogee spiker at Hyundai Capital.
He said, “I am confident in my offense. Compared to other middle blockers, I am shorter in height and have shorter arms, so I thought that if it is difficult to overpower the opponent with height, let’s launch a quick attack.” “As I thought about these aspects to contribute to the team, I also gained offensive know-how. Of course, we need to work on our shortcomings, but we are trying to maximize our strengths even more.”
Woo Sang-jo, who is the oldest member of the team after Kim Hong-jung and Jeong Min-soo, emphasizes the psychological aspect to the juniors the most. He believes that the team can only be strong if they are able to quickly shake off the bad flow and encourage each other.
“Volleyball is a team sport. I tell the juniors that it’s important not to turn away from each other when things aren’t going well,” he says. “I think everyone has skills and that’s why they came to the pros. I think it’s one of my roles to give advice from the side to help them overcome crises and get rid of stress quickly.”
Woo Sang-jo, who hasn’t given a personal interview since his professional debut, hopes to be remembered by fans as a player who lives up to the word ‘steady’.
“I want to be remembered as a steady, average player,” he said, “and when I get into a match, I will try my best to be remembered as a player who does his part.”