Colorado Hometown Newspapers
It's not easy being the new kid.
It's certainly not supposed to be as easy as Monarch transfer student Justin Chin is making it look.
Chin, who transferred to Monarch from Hong Kong in August, took almost no time fitting in at the Louisville campus.
Chin had only been a Monarch student a matter of minutes before he signed on with the school's tennis and golf programs, and in a matter of hours he was penciled in at the top of both teams' rosters.
Chin went to the Coyotes' tennis practice immediately after registering for classes.
"He didn't fly in from Hong Kong until halfway through our tryouts," said Monarch tennis coach Susan Riley, who put Chin immediately into challenge matches for his spot on the team. "It ended up being really close between Justin and (Adam Richmond) for the No. 1 singles spot."
Richmond had won all his challenge matches and therefore the top singles position before Chin's name was added to the mix, but didn’t mind relinquishing his spot.
"I had No. 1 pretty sealed up when Mrs. Riley told me to come in and hit with this new guy," Richmond said. "But we started to hit together and I'm like: "This guy (Chin) is pretty good. His skill level was definitely the best on our team."
Chin had a similar experience on the golf course the next day.
"He came in on the second week of the season," Monarch golf coach Michael Riley said. "I gave him a one-day tryout and he shot a 74, so I said: 'Well, I guess we can add you.’ He moved into that No. 1 spot from Day 1."
Twenty-four hours into his Monarch career, Chin had become the school's top athlete in two different sports, whose seasons run simultaneously. Needless to say, Chin has had a busy schedule to maintain this fall.
"The day we came in, after registration, I went to tennis practice and met coach (Susan) Riley. Then, the next day, I met the other coach (Michael) Riley," Chin said. "Right away, they drew up a schedule for me."
After all, Susan and Michael Riley, who are married, have done the shared-athlete routine before.
Last spring, during the girls tennis and golf season, they shared freshman Katie MacIntyre — who played No. 1 singles on the tennis team and was the No. 4 golfer on the Coyotes’ state championship squad.
"Michael and I, just as we did with Katie, had to sit down at the start of the season and make a schedule," Susan Riley said. "We had to decide which days he would practice which sport, and which matches and tournaments he would go to."
The way things boiled down, Chin was scheduled to play in most of his league tennis matches, and golfed primarily in the larger invitational tournaments the Coyotes were signed up for this season. Though it has been a constant juggling act, Chin has kept his head above water during the past two months.
"I've been practicing with a private instructor, outside of my regular golf practice," Chin said. "I've probably been to more tennis practices with the team. It's been great way to learn to organize my time."
Though he's only had the luxury of using Chin at the top of his lineup six times this season, Michael Riley said Chin's time with the tennis team hasn't come at the detriment to the golf program.
"The two sports compliment one another in that they use the same skill as far as eye-hand coordination, contact, and they're both pretty isolated, individual sports when you're out there competing," Michael Riley said.
But much of Chin's success has been due to his ability to put the team first.
"Anybody who can come in right away and take the top spots in two sports has to be talented," Susan Riley said. "But Justin's first strength is his attitude. He is very humble. His teammates have no reservations about him stepping into that No. 1 spot, whatsoever, but he was ready and willing to go wherever we were going to put him in our lineup. He has been an incredible team player."
Chin, who already has been contacted by a handful of college recruiters about playing golf at the next level, will be a key piece to the postseason puzzle for both Monarch's golf and tennis teams.
Chin will tee off on Wednesday, Sept. 20, as Monarch's No. 1 golfer at the Class 5A northern Regional at Legacy Ridge Golf Course. Chin, who averaged 77 during the 2006 prep golf season, shot even par during a recent practice round on the regional course and has the best chance of any Coyote golfer to qualify for the state tournament.
Chin still has a couple weeks to dial in what he refers to as his "upsy-downsy" tennis game before next month's regional tournament, but, with Chin at the top of the order, the Coyotes have an excellent shot at capturing their first region team title.
"What he does, by moving into the No. 1 singles spot, is make our whole team stronger," Richmond said. "By moving him into that top spot, coach Riley could keep our two returning singles players where there were and set up an amazing No. 1 doubles team. We have better players at every spot because Justin came onboard."
Though Chin would love to come through in the postseason for each of his teams, he and his coaches realize the roads to state in both golf and tennis are decidedly uphill.
But, it's hard not to have high hopes for a teen who already has overcome a move halfway around the globe, dealt with a severe altitude change, adapted to new teams and opponents, and skyrocketed to the top of two sports competing in the same season.
"It has been incredible, that he has been good enough and has the talent to stay on top in two sports," Susan Riley said. "There has been so much pressure on him with being new, and also being the No. 1 guy on these teams, that I would love to see him get to state."
At this point in the year, Chin isn't going to change the gameplan that has gotten him this far.
"I'm just taking it one swing at a time," he said.
Here's a link to the article in Colorado Hometown News: