Sister cities, sister schools, sister athletes: Chongqing Nankai visits Chief Sealth International High School for historic game

(Nankai’s Zhang Yuheng with the ball)
Photos by Nick Adams
Story/video by Tracy Record
for West Seattle Blog

It’s not your ordinary high-school basketball game when you make your entrance greeting your opponents as warmly as your teammates …

(Sealth #11: Zoe Haywood)
… hugging them afterward …

… or when the mayor shows up, shows off ball-spinning skills to the home team’s principal, then stays for the whole game…

(Mayor Mike McGinn with Sealth principal Chris Kinsey)
… or when lion dancers take the floor before tipoff.

… or when your band plays two national anthems:

Or, when you’ve crossed an ocean to get to the gym! That’s the big reason why hoopla and hoops mixed at Chief Sealth International High School‘s gym on Saturday night, with the girls basketball team from Sealth’s sister school Chongqing Nankai, in Seattle’s Chinese sister city, joining the Seahawks for a “friendship game.” While it was close in the early going, the Nankai girls pulled away and eventually won 57 to 40. Here’s video of the final minute-plus:

Far more than just the basketball action will put this game in the history books. See why, with more photos and video, ahead:

The event was full of photo ops, because this was history – the “first annual” Sealth vs. Nankai game, as it was announced, with the next one expected to be played on their side of the Pacific:

View Larger Map

The president of the Chongqing-Seattle Sister City Association, Scott Heinlein, spoke before the game about his hopes that students here will learn another language – Sealth and adjacent Denny International Middle School host the Confucius Institute Education Center – and thrive in a “global community.”

“How much more complicated our world would be, if we can’t communicate beyond our borders,” Heinlein mused. As he spoke, flags and banners were held high across the gym:

Principal Kinsey and Mayor McGinn spoke briefly as well, including the background of how the game came to be, with the mayor having issued an invitation during his visit to Chongqing last year. And then it was on to Sifu David Leong‘s lion-dance team – here’s our video:

And then the game, after team and coach introductions. Nankai, by the way, has more than four times Sealth’s 1,300 students! Head coach is Shi Lei:

Finally, tipoff:

The Sealth players, led by head coach Katie Jo Maris, stayed close for the hard-fought first quarter.

The lead seesawed; they were down just one point (11-10) when it ended.

Nankai’s #8 Cheng Han (in the photo above with Sealth’s #21 Samantha Scroggins) opened the second-quarter scoring with a three-pointer. The Seahawks worked hard on defense:

But the run-and-gun game led to their visitors piling on more points, leading 21-14 at halftime, and 42-24 at the end of the third quarter.

The friendly rivals played on:

And the final score of 57-40 Nankai seemed almost a side note. The crowd stood and cheered. The band played. The mayor, by the way, stayed for the whole game – this wasn’t just a “drop in for photos” type of appearance.

And the cross-Pacific friends and friendly rivals celebrated:

(Click here to see the celebratory dance on video.) The ten student-athletes from Chongqing aren’t going home yet – they arrived on Thursday for a weeklong stay with host families, so they have more memories ahead off the court:

West Seattle, by the way, has yet another tie with Chongqing: It’s home to artisans who helped design the Seattle Chinese Garden, on the north side of the South Seattle Community College (WSB sponsor) campus on Puget Ridge.

5 Replies to "Sister cities, sister schools, sister athletes: Chongqing Nankai visits Chief Sealth International High School for historic game"

  • Sandy Marvinney January 13, 2013 (6:51 pm)

    Terrific story and photos on the Chief Sealth-Nankai basketball game! Thank you for such extensive coverage of this wonderful high school exchange experience. Kudos to the Lady Seahawks and all the Chief Sealth administrators, teachers, students, and parents/host families for so warmly welcoming the Nankai team and for enthusiastically supporting the sister school relationship for 10 years. All West Seattle residents can be very proud of Chief Sealth International High School, which is certainly living up to the “International” part of its name.

    Sandy Marvinney, Seattle-Chongqing Sister City Association

  • john January 13, 2013 (8:17 pm)

    So awesome!

  • James Donaldson January 14, 2013 (11:37 am)

    I got a chance to be part of the wonderful weekend of basketball and cultural exchange with Chief Sealth high school and the Nan Kai high school girls basketball team from Chongqing, China,as myself and Eldridge Recastner (both of us former NBA players) conducted a basketball training session for both teams during the weekend.

    It was a wonderful display of international friendship and cultural exchange through sports. I think this is a great thing for both the city of Seattle and the city of Chongqing and their Sister City International Relationship.

  • Tim Streck January 14, 2013 (2:48 pm)

    What a wonderful event and cultural exchange opportunity! Many thanks to the Seahawks, the Chief Sealth students and staff and the many others who worked together to welcome Nankai’s team. I, for one, had a wonderful time watching the game, and more importantly the amazing interactions between the players after the game.

    Great job everyone!

  • Cynthia Duarte January 14, 2013 (5:31 pm)

    We attended the Chief Sealth game with the Sister City, what a great event! Both teams seemed to be having a great time, not only as teams, but as friends. The only disappointment was a result of lack of support from the community. Everyone in the community should be supporting Chief Sealth and the students and staff. You missed a fun and exciting evening. Come on parents, the school staff and students need your support, get with it!!!!!!!

Sorry, comment time is over.