Baseball might not seem like an easy sport to play in Hong Kong, where finding open areas big and flat enough to play can prove tricky. But this hasn’t stopped talented players like Ian Lo rising through the ranks of local leagues. When it’s the other team’s turn to bat, you’ll find this South Island School student in the shortstop position – one of the most physically demanding defence positions in the game.
Ian, 15, has been playing baseball since he was eight years old, and has seen enough victories and losses to have adopted a pragmatic mindset towards a future career in sports. Many of his peers may have been introduced to baseball via Wii Sports, but Ian got his first taste when a friend encouraged him to try it out IRL.
For Ian, playing baseball means more than letting off steam and taking time out from textbooks. “Baseball is a sport about the player’s mind,” he says. “Unlike in other sports, you don’t need to have the best physical abilities to perform well. It is truly a sport that anyone can play, as long as you develop the skills to build up confidence when playing.”
In team sports, players not only face pressure from themselves, but must also be able to handle the expectations of the whole team. Ian admits he finds this one of the toughest aspects of baseball. “The biggest challenge is maintaining a calm state of mind when playing,” he says, adding, “especially in tough situations where pressure to perform well could lead to nervousness which hinders performance.
“It’s also difficult to pick yourself up after you make a mistake in a game, especially if it leads to the loss of the game. Sometimes, failure to play well in a game makes you feel hopeless and makes you more likely to give up easily.”
His greatest solo achievement came in a local league game when he reached third base after “bunting the ball” – a strategic yet risky move where the batter holds the bat instead of swinging it, stopping the ball from going very far and confusing the fielders.
As a team player, he has participated in international and regional tournaments, playing for the Hong Kong team. One of his most memorable experiences was in the 2015 Little League Asia Pacific Tournament. “We played with teams from different countries within Asia. Although we didn’t win many games, it was a great experience because I was able to learn from the team’s mistakes and meet new people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” he says.
Ian’s future career could involve baseball, but for now he’s covering all his bases by studying hard. When the player is feeling the heat of exams, sport sometimes has to sit on the bench.
Ian says, “Right now, I’m trying to balance studying for the IB with my sport. It’s very challenging and demanding. While I’ll never quit baseball, I will [have to] continue to play on a more casual level.”
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
I think Get Low by Dillon Francis and DJ Snake best represents me. Probably something to do with my last name. People say it should be my walk-up song, and I agree with them.
You can have any superpower you choose for 24 hours. What do you choose and how do you use this power?
I would have the power to make all of my wishes come true. Then, I could wish for absolutely anything, including the ability to have more wishes.
If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
Time, so that time management wouldn’t be an issue and I could take as much time as I wanted to perform tasks at my own pace.
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign-on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
I would promote baseball gear (fielding mitts particularly) for Mizuno and Under Armour. They’re my favourite brands for baseball gear. I may also promote Easton or Louisville Slugger’s bats.