GS Caltex lifted the championship cup at the 2022 Suncheon Dodram Cup professional volleyball competition and once again took on the treble challenge following the 2020-2021 season. Unfortunately, that challenge failed. He showed a sluggish appearance in the league and received a report card of failure to advance to spring volleyball in 5 seasons. However, GS Caltex’s captain ‘Mint Boss’ Han Su-ji was a brilliant season. For the first time in his life, he ranked first in the blocking category.
Han Su-ji, who joined GS Caltex as the first setter in the 2006-2007 season, went through many twists and turns, including position changes and health problems, while spending 17 seasons in the V-League. It was only for ‘volleyball’ that Han Suji endured a difficult time. [The Spike] met Han Su-ji in person and looked back on her volleyball life through스포츠토토
This is the first meeting with The Spike. How was it when you received the invitation to recruit?
In fact, I know that there was a request for recruitment last month (March issue). At that time, when it was difficult for us to advance to the playoffs on our own, we were asked to meet. I wanted to do it because it was my first interview with <The Spike>, but the situation and atmosphere at the time were really bad. It was hard to accept because I had consistently performed well for several seasons. I’m so sorry, but thank you for contacting me again.
Do you know what kind of interview [Fact Check] is?
No, I don’t know (laughs). We are going to have time to look back on the path we have walked while interviewing
older sister stalker Han Suji . What is the most memorable game or record during his long career as a player?
A memorable game reminds me of the last game that confirmed the 2020-2021 season treble at gs caltex. If you win the 3rd match, it will end, but that match went to the 5th set. I had surgery that season, so I couldn’t play in many games. But the coach put me in as a starter for the 5th set. I had a lot of worries, but fortunately I won and achieved the treble. I think that match is the most memorable. (Are there any memorable records?) Currently in progress (laughs). (At the time of the interview, Han Su-ji was ranked #1 in blocking, and eventually maintained it until the end and rose to #1 in the blocking category.)
I’m curious about how you started playing volleyball.
When my sister was in elementary school, she competed in the shot put competition and became a scout in three sports: basketball, handball, and volleyball. Her older sister chose her volleyball among them and started living in her dormitory. But she is so bored with me because her sister is not at her house. So she went to see her manager after begging her mother, ‘I want to play volleyball like my sister too’. I was very short at the time. That’s why I was worried, but the director saw my hands and feet and said that since they’re so big, I’d be taller too. So I started playing volleyball. (Han Su-ji’s older sister, Han Eun-ji, was active at KGC Ginseng Corporation from the 2005-2006 season to the 2012-2013 season.)
If she had played a sport other than volleyball, would she have been with her?
I guess so. When she was little, she almost followed her sister like a stalker (laughs). (I wonder if he would have succeeded even if he played other sports.) My husband goes to a basketball club. So he sometimes goes along and learns, and people in the club say, “You should have played basketball.”
Have you had motor nerves since childhood?
I don’t think there was any. His dad is super tall and I heard he played sports when he was little. But I don’t know what sport it is (laughs).
What kind of player were you during your school days?
He was a dwarf (laughs). When I was in elementary school, I was small enough to be a head away from the captain of the team. By the time he was in middle school, he was very tall. Later, I found out that the elementary school director deliberately raised me to be a tall setter, knowing that I would be tall.
When you were in Geunyoung Girls’ High School, was there a rival team?
It’s a Korean-Japanese computer. At that time, there were Bae Yu-na (Korea Expressway Corporation) and Kim Jae-young at Hanil Computer Girls’ High School. When I was at Geunyeong Girls’ High School, I never failed to finish in the top 3 in a national competition. But I don’t think I have any memories of losing to Hanil Girls’ High School and winning the championship (laughs). I joined GS Caltex in the 1st round of the 2006-2007 season as
a pro in Doha . At the time of the draft, I was selected as a national representative and participated in the Doha Asian Games, so my mother went to the rookie draft site (laughs). Thanks to her, her mom took a picture wearing her GS Caltex outfit. At that time, (Kim) Yeon-kyung unnie watched the rookie draft on the Internet and said, “You are going to GS Caltex” (laughs).
We just finished our 17th season.
He originally dreamed of retiring at the age of 30. You might think he’s fast now, but when he was younger, that was the way it was. Now, I have (Jeong) Daeyoung unnie, coach (Lee) Hyohee just retired, and (Kim) Haeran unnie is still doing it, but when I was young, the unnies retired between the ages of 28 and 30, so I thought that was natural. . But I’ve been doing it until now, exceeding my goal.
Have you ever thought about retiring?
Both me and my husband are getting older, so I’m worried because I have to make plans for children. I’m trying to come up with a plan.
Now she is known as middle blocker Han Su-ji, but she was actually a setter. What are the charms of these two positions?
First of all, the setter is good when he tricks the opponent and removes blocking so that the attackers can attack comfortably. Middle blockers are blocking. When he was a setter, he wanted to do better, so he watched a lot of videos of the setters. But later, when I became a middle blocker and tried to block on the opponent’s court, I saw their passing form. So he got a lot of help. He’s still receiving it.
Looking back on his debut season.
At that time, my team probably won 8 games. I was lacking a lot (laughs). Although I received the Rookie of the Year award, it wasn’t because I did well, but rather because I was the only one among the rookie players to receive it.
After the 2006-2007 season of ‘Remember Back A’, I moved to Hyundai E&C as a free agent compensation player. He only lasted one season and he was leaving the team, so it was hard to accept at first. Because he was attached to GS Caltex, but he thought that having to go to another place was too difficult for his young mind at the time. But when I went to Hyundai E&C, I got along well (laughs). During his time at Hyundai E&C, he went through difficulties, including falling into a slump. If he has grown up in it. I received the setter award in the 2009-2010 season, and the coach at that time was the late Hwang Hyun-joo. I learned a lot from the coach, and coaches Yang Cheol-ho and Kim Woo-jae also helped me a lot so that I could grow. Won the regular league championship for the first time in the 2009-2010 season.
What I still remember is that there was a foreign player named Kenny on our team at that time. It was a match point situation in a game where a win would confirm 1st place in the regular league, but the rally was very long. But all of a sudden, Kenny is apologetic and asks for a back-A fast break. I was surprised too and just gave it away (laughs). That was successful, so the match was over, and we were confirmed to be in first place. And Kenny asked for an autograph before returning to Colombia after the season, so I signed it and wrote ‘Remember Back A’ underneath (laughs).
The main setter who won the regular league will be transferred to KGC Ginseng Corporation next season.
In fact, he did not go to KGC Ginseng Corporation right away, but he ended up intertwined (laughs). I think it was okay because it was my second transfer. And at the time, KGC Ginseng Corporation had an older sister, so I went without thinking. She (her sister helped me a lot), I wonder if her sister was having a hard time because of me (laughs). I kept following.
In the 2011-2012 season, KGC Ginseng Corporation won the first overall championship.
Actually, the 2010-2011 season, the year before that, was very difficult. Because of the members who won the championship match in the 2009-2010 season, only the setter changed, but they finished in 4th place. It’s absolutely my fault. So I had a hard time, but it was fortunate that I won the combined championship next season. Madeleine Montaño Caicedo did a really good job. But since I’m only good at foreign players, other unnies must have had a hard time too.
After winning the championship, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
At that time, the trainer didn’t accept it more than me. I must have been very shocked. I was driving to my accommodation, but I took the wrong road and went somewhere else. Of course, I was also shocked. So, one of my friend’s fathers had a doctor, so I asked, ‘What will happen if I get surgery after the season?’ So right after surgery, I was resting at home and trying to start exercising again, but I couldn’t breathe because I couldn’t breathe. Even so, director Lee Seong-hee waited for me. So I was able to play again.
It’s not easy to exercise again after cancer surgery, but is there a reason you decided to come back?
I just thought I should go. I don’t know why, but I didn’t have any thoughts of quitting the sport, I just thought I had to go back because the club and coach Lee Seong-hee were waiting for me.
In the 2016-2017 season, we finally change positions.
At first, coach Lee Seong-hee said, “It’s hard (setter due to health problems), so if you play middle blocker, you can rest in the middle, so why don’t you try it?” At that time, there were many outstanding players in our team’s middle blockers. So I thought that I could beat them by doing it from now on. And first of all, the setter was more fun. I wanted to continue tossing. So at that time, I said, ‘I will continue as a setter’. And after a while, a new director Seo Nam-won came. At the time, Jae-eun Lee and I were on the team as setters, and it would have been nice if she did well together, but when one player did well, the other one faltered, and there was no day when we did well together. There were many situations like that, so head coach Seo Nam-won said he would have to trade one of them. But I guess it didn’t go well with other teams in the process. So he changed me to a middle blocker.
If you had continued to be a setter, would you have been a player until now?
Even if I had done so far, I think I would have been unable to become the starting setter and only went in for blocking during the game.
What was the hardest part of the position change process?
It was just fun (laughs). At that time, I also attacked in Apposite, but my teammates must have enjoyed it because I scored a goal when I attacked. That’s why I gave all the double toss to me. Then I got excited again and continued to attack. I also tried outside heater, but it worked well at first, so it was fun. But it didn’t work well from the second game onwards, so I told the coach, ‘I can’t play outside heater’.
Even the doctor
couldn’t stop Han Su-ji ahead of the championship match . In the 2019-2020 season, he will return to his parent team, GS Caltex. I live in Daejeon, but I thought I was too far away from home (laughs). It was the claim at KGC Ginseng Corporation, but it was comfortable because (Kim) Yu-ri and (Lee) So-young claimed at GS Caltex. (I was the captain this season.) If you are the captain, you definitely have a lot to pay attention to. I’m sorry that I can’t take care of all the players. How was it when you first saw GS Caltex’s new accommodation in Gapyeong? It’s a place made only for exercise (laughs). Taxis are hard to find here, and you have to pay more than 50,000 won for delivery. (Are you not going fishing with director Cha Sang-hyun?) At first, I followed the director, but it was fun. I didn’t know, but he liked sitting and looking at water and steam for 3-4 hours (laughs). But the problem is that I can’t wear earthworms. I have to help by your side. And even if you catch a fish, you can’t get it out. After all, I just throw a fishing rod. I once caught a very big fish. But someone came and had to lift the fish with a scoop, but no one was around. So in the end the fish ran away. It was a big fish that surprised even the people involved, but it’s a pity (laughs). The 2019-2020 season, which ended early in the middle of round 6, formed a Yanggang system with Hyundai E&C. I think it would have been fun if the championship match had been held. Both us and Hyundai E&C had good members. Still, wouldn’t Hyundai E&C feel more regretful? It’s a one point difference, but we were in first place in the league.
In the 2020-2021 season, I had surgery midway through round 3.
Even back then, I was ranked #1 in blocking… Actually, my ankle was so bad that I went to the hospital, but the doctor said, ‘I think it’s going to break’. And the real thing, a few days later, he landed on his one leg and tore his ankle ligaments. He went to the hospital, but they couldn’t do the operation because they said ‘there are still a few ligaments left to operate on’. I train in that state, but it hurts so much when I block and land. At that time, I really thought it wouldn’t work, so I told the director, and the director gave me a choice saying, ‘What do you want to do?’ I was very sorry about the team’s performance and my individual performance, but I said, ‘I have no choice, so I will have surgery’ and in the end I had surgery.
The return match was the second leg of the championship match against Heungkuk Life Insurance.
I came back in a hurry. At the time, the doctor said you couldn’t lift the tip. But how does he jump without tiptoe (laughs). So I convinced the doctor. I said, ‘There is a device that holds my ankle so I can’t lift it on tiptoe, but I think it’ll be fine if I wear this.’ The doctor who operated and the teacher in charge of rehabilitation were worried about me. Still, in a different situation, he would have said no, but he said, ‘It’s the championship match, so try it.’
What did the doctor say after the championship match?
I got scolded (laughs). The doctor also said that only about 5 surgeries I had had been performed. I think that’s why I was more concerned.
In the end, he won the treble by winning the championship match.
I thought, ‘I can do something like this’. She was thrilled because she was the first in the women’s division. She is proud to be part of the first ever treble in the women’s division.
Now let’s talk about the national team. She went to the 2006 Doha Asian Games as a high school student. How was it?
(Bae) Yu, along with me, took care of her older sisters. But Yuna has a calm personality and I have a quick-tempered personality. So she said, whatever Yuna is going to do, I’ve already done it. She probably felt comfortable with Yuna (laughs). At the time, she was shocked to see her older sisters playing volleyball on the varsity team. The power to hit the ball was different from the volleyball I’ve played, and the angle was different. It was a whole new world.
In 2022, I went to the World Championships.
At that time, I rushed into the selection process and only thought about what I could do for other players and what role I could play. When I saw Turkiye middle blocker Edda Erdem in person, he was really good.
Do you feel the change as you experience the old world volleyball and the recent world volleyball?
It’s much faster than before. I thought that if even European players introduced speed volleyball, it would be difficult for Asians to achieve results. And since the official ball is different, it is more difficult. In order for us to achieve good results in international competitions, we need to have good ball control. However, no matter how similar the balls are, they are definitely different. I can do it if told to, but it takes time to handle the ball in detail. We just get used to seeing it for a month and then it ends. I think it’s definitely a problem.
I’m going to try to wrap up the interview soon. I looked back on my volleyball life, how was it?
A lot of things happened, and I don’t think it was turbulent. I don’t know when I’ll retire, but until then, I hope it’s finished well without any further problems.
I am curious about the goal of Suji Han, a person who is not a volleyball player.
I want to eat well and live well (laughs).