Flying squirrel Park Kyeong-min says he plays without fear

Cheonan Hyundai Capital Skywalkers libero Park Kyeong-min [JOONGANG ILBO]

Some know Cheonan Hyundai Capital Skywalkers libero Park Kyeong-min as the flying squirrel, a nickname he earned thanks to his agility on the court. “When the ball is in the air, I just chase it without thinking about anything else,” Park said during an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo at Castle of Skywalkers, the team’s training center, in Cheonan, South Chungcheong on Jan 11. “I just launch myself without thinking about consequences.” His ability to receive a ball going 100 kilometers per hour (62.14 miles per hour) makes him one of the best-performing liberos in the V League.  As of Sunday, his reception efficiency is 53.99 percent, the highest in the league. His notable form this season is not a fluke. He placed in the season’s best seven in the 2021-22 season with an outstanding performance.  
“I feel like my attitude of mind before going into a game became more composed than how it was last year,” Park said. “I felt anxious last season, and I think that aspect improved.”  Park runs quickly and chases the ball, sometimes into advertising boards several feet away from the sidelines.“I don’t think any player plays a game with the fear of being injured,” Park said. “I just chase a ball if it is just in the air without thinking about anything that would happen later.“My back hurts a lot as I have to lower my body, and I inevitably get minor injuries.”Since his professional debut in 2020, Park has played all 36 league games for the past three seasons — 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.  
“I am not in my fourth season yet, and this is just a beginning for me,” Park said. “I want to play volleyball until my club, head coach and assistant coaches want me. I wish I could play until I reach the age of coach Yeo [Oh-hyun].” Yeo is a player-coach at the Skywalkers who still plays the sport at the age of 45.  Park started playing volleyball when he was a fourth grader, but he changed his playing position from setter to libero when he was in ninth grade, as he did not grow tall enough, at 5 feet 6 inches.He thought that he would not make his professional debut if he didn’t change his position. Park’s solid form last season allowed the Skywalkers to finish the league as runners-up. The Cheonan side has struggled so far this year, sitting in sixth place on the seven-team table. But as the regular 2023-24 season still has over a month to go, the team may climb up the standings and reach the postseason. The Skywalkers will continue to be in league action as 슬롯놀이터 they are set to face defending champions Incheon Korean Air Jumbos on Tuesday in Incheon.  

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