Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Student-Athlete Feature: Men’s Soccer Ricky Kai


CHICAGO – In conjunction with the recognition and celebration of Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, UChicago athletics will feature a number of student-athletes throughout May. In the first installment of this series, hear from Ricky Kay of UChicago Men’s Soccer as he discusses his experiences in a question-and-answer format.

Kai is a second-year rising from Houston, Texas and plays as a midfielder for the defending-national champion Maroons.

How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

I was originally born in Japan and moved to Houston when I was in first grade. Because of this, I have thought a lot about my identity. During middle school and high school, I had difficulty dealing with my progress toward being American and the separation from being Japanese. I was forgetting the language and my mannerisms were completely different. Now, I have come to truly appreciate both the cultures: the one in which I was born and the one that welcomed me and grew me into the person I am today.

Who would you describe as a role model in your life and why?

My role model is my father. As a child, whenever he got angry with me, he would later come back and apologise. I don’t know any other father who would do that. Certainly someone I try to replicate in terms of being disciplined, principled and selfless.

What is your favorite memory from your athletic career?

My favorite memory in my athletic career is when two of my best friends, both a grade lower than me, committed to college for soccer. Even though I’m only a year older than him, I’ve always tried to inspire him to be the best version of himself and seeing him commit was my way of growing my high school soccer program. It’s great to see their hard work pay off and I’m so excited to see what they accomplish at their respective schools.

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