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U.S. women’s volleyball coach Jenny Lang Ping scares the key-rap out of me. Probably because she has my mother’s hair (Do all of our mothers go to the same hairdresser to get that unnatural red color and that moonface-inducing bob?) and my father’s pursed-lip, nonplussed expression. Her face reminds me of how my parents looked when they read my diary in 7th grade (in which I called my mom every name in the book, mostly to practice my curse words) or when I choked on the PSATs sophomore year; it’s a face shimmering with disappointment and incapable of understanding insubordination or failure. Oh, and Coach Lang’s nickname when she was a player and won gold for China was “The Iron Hammer,” not exactly the name of a softie.
My guess is that her being hard-to-please has something to do with how she got her team, ranked 4th in the world and unlikely medal contenders, to overachieve and defeat China, Italy and Cuba in order to advance to the Olympic finals against Brazil. After the U.S. women beat Cuba today in the semis, The Iron Hammer finally cracked a smile in what the AP called “a rare show of emotion.”
I’ll say! Watching Coach Lang smile, laugh, and bear-hug her players actually freaked me the fuck out. It was so…positive and…(gulp) effusive. It just doesn’t feel right if she’s not giving her players (and us viewers, really) that scary death stare. It doesn’t feel Asian. It doesn’t feel, frankly, like home.
So, Coach Lang, please stop smiling. You’re making me very very uncomfortable. And if you, The Iron Hammer, go soft now, how in the world will you get those ladies to bash in Brazil? No one’s ever been loved, nurtured, and positively reinforced to a gold medal, have they??
UPDATE: Brazil prevails, the U.S. wins silver. SEE WHAT I MEAN?!