From team name to player composition, many things have changed. Head coach Lee Jong-rim talked about the various changes at Jeonggwanjang.
KGC Ginseng changed its name to ‘Jungkwanjang Red Sparks’ on August 30, the day before the season started. With the new name, which means ‘a volleyball team that wins with sparkling performances,’ the team faced many changes besides the name. The team’s composition, playstyle, and team communication have changed from the previous season.
In a meeting with The Spike at Jeonggwanjang’s training center in Sintanjin last November, head coach Lee Jong-rim spoke about the various changes the team has undergone. “Originally, we did not have a separate team name after KGC Ginseng Corporation, 토토사이트 and the word ‘ginseng’ in the name of the parent company was always a barrier to narrowing our spectrum,” he said, explaining that it was a choice to expand the spectrum by changing the name of the sports team along the way.
Lee went on to talk about the changes they’re making in other areas beyond the team name. “After becoming the head coach, the last thing I wanted to hear was ‘bun volleyball,'” he said, adding, “I told Coach Ko Hee-jin that I wanted to solve that problem, and Coach Ko agreed. “I told her that I wanted to fix that, and she agreed. We agreed that we wanted to play more fun volleyball, utilizing all the players as much as possible. She worked hard to prepare and I supported her as much as I could. If you look at the games we won, everyone on the court was having fun and playing evenly. It’s still a young team, so there’s a part of us that gets swept up in the atmosphere, but I think it’s going to get better and better,” said Ko, who also expressed hope that the coach and players will overcome the transition period.
Prior to his role as head coach, Lee served as head of marketing. He is using his experience to design a marketing plan that will allow fans to interact more actively with the players. “After visiting the stadium, I realized that I wanted to reduce the distance between the players and the fans,” he said. “I wanted to give the fans a more vivid experience, so I created a new seat called Spark Seat in Chungmu Gymnasium. It’s a seat where you can see the players closer and enjoy the game more vividly,” he said, introducing the story behind the birth of Spark Seats.
Lee’s focus on fan-friendly changes doesn’t stop with the new Spark Seats. “I want to pursue a direction where fans can participate more,” he said, “and after the game, if fans surround the court, the players will go around and high-five them, so we want to create a time for fans to interact with the club and narrow the distance between them.
These ideas come from the fact that Lee is also the head coach of the men’s basketball team, the Jeonggwanjang Red Boosters. “In the case of Anyang Basketball Center, which is used by the Red Boosters, the stadium and players’ quarters are attached, so the players actively do fan service when fans line the 30-meter corridor to the quarters after the game. In volleyball, on the other hand, the fans can see the players when they go to get on the bus. We can’t close the distance to the buses due to safety issues, but we want to create opportunities for fans to interact with the players on the court,” he said, explaining how he came up with the idea.
The Red Boosters basketball team had a great season last season, winning the championship. Lee, who was behind the scenes to help them win the championship, suggested to Goh that they incorporate some of the positives he saw in the basketball team this season. “Basketball and volleyball are so different, and I’m not a player, so I can’t comment on the in-game stuff at all. However, in the case of basketball coach Kim Sang-sik, it was good to see that he talked to the coaches, players, and staff quite a bit and got new ideas in the process. I have suggested to Coach Ko that we should have more conversations and communications. Coach Ko is receptive to it, and it seems to be getting better,” he said, adding that the communication between the players and the coaching staff is more active than before.
Lee also shared a story about this season’s sensation, Megawati Puthiwi (nee Mega). “When Coach Ko first debriefed her, I was very impressed that she wore a hijab. I wasn’t able to evaluate her performance, but I thought she was a good story to tell because there was no other athlete in Korea who wore a hijab,” said Lee, who added, “Now she is showing skills and charm far beyond my expectations. “She has a great personality, and there are no cultural barriers, except for the fact that she doesn’t eat pork. He’s a really bright guy. When I saw her helping another foreign player, Giovanna Milana (registered name Zia), to adapt to the Asian culture, I thought she was amazing,” Lee said.
During the interview, I also asked Lee a rather childish question, “Do your players eat red ginseng every day?” “We give them red ginseng products with deer antler every day. It’s a product that helps boost immunity and activate metabolism, so it’s helpful for the players. At first, they said they didn’t like it, but now that they know it’s good for them, they eat it. The two foreign athletes also said that they didn’t like it at first, but later on, they took it well (laughs).” He gave a kind and pleasant answer.
At the end of the interview, Lee expressed his greetings to the players and fans of Jeonggwanjang. He first told the players, “I tell them that being a professional is not something that someone tells you to do, but something that you have to do for yourself, and that’s the way to do it for yourself and the team. I hope the players will continue to work hard to increase their own value.”
To the fans who support Jung Kwan-jang, he said, “So many people are eager for spring volleyball. Of course, our goal is spring volleyball. Jia, Mega, Park Eun-jin, and other young players can still improve, so if they can make it to spring volleyball, anything can happen after that. Thank you very much for your support. We will do a lot of work for the fans,” he said, expressing both ambition and gratitude. As they try to make various changes to become a better team, Jung and Lee hope to do their best to not disappoint their fans in the rest of the season.