The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Fay Magazine: Summer 2022

Inside the Olympic Dream: Rudi Ying ’14

Daintry Duffy Zaterka '88
Rudi Ying '14's passion for hockey has paved the way for some memorable adventures - including the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
As Rudi Ying ’14 marched with his teammates into Beijing National Stadium this past February for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games, he turned and doffed his hat towards the cameras. Dressed in the Chinese Olympic Team uniform of white dress pants, tan overcoat, red scarf, and a sherpa-lined trapper hat, he could have been tough to pick out of the crowd. But Rudi promised family and friends that he would remove his cap as he marched in so that they could see him. While his fellow athletes recorded every moment with their phones, Rudi intentionally left his phone in his pocket. “I knew the memories would be deeper,” he says, “if I put my phone down and just enjoyed the moment.”
Rudi moved to the United States from China when he was nine years old, and hockey was already a huge passion for him. Arriving at Fay in the fall of 2012, Rudi quickly felt at home. “The environment felt more like a tight- knit family instead of a school,” he remembers. Rudi played for Fay, coached by varsity hockey coach Joe Buteau, and after Fay practices, he would cross the rink to practice with his Junior Bruins team. Although Rudi was only at Fay for a year, he remembers it as the one school he didn’t want to leave—and he still has a group chat where he keeps in touch with his Fay friends. After a short stint at Phillips Exeter Academy, Rudi left to play junior hockey in Toronto. The allure of professional hockey was enormous, but Rudi wasn’t sure what his path should be or if he was even good enough.
When China won the 2022 Winter Olympics bid, everything changed. Rudi’s dad heard about a new Chinese pro hockey team forming in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), HC Kunlun Red Star. Rudi flew out to Finland for a tryout, and on his 18th birthday, he signed his first professional contract. A Russian-dominated league, the KHL was tough competition for a Chinese start-up team. Playing against teams in Russia, Finland, Croatia, Latvia, Czechoslovakia, and Belarus necessitated a grueling travel schedule, and the style of play was also much faster. Nonetheless, Rudi notched many firsts for a Chinese player in the KHL, remaining the only Chinese player to have scored twice in the league.
As the Olympics drew near, the rules that governed daily life for the Chinese hockey team became increasingly stringent. A Zero-Covid policy put the team in lockdown. Rudi was unable to go home or see his family or girlfriend for a year and a half. The repercussions of the Russian doping scandal also had everyone on edge. Team officials were so worried about the possibility of a player accidentally ingesting a banned substance that for that year and a half, players could only eat food given to them by the team. About 250 days into quarantine, Rudi hit rock
bottom and wanted to quit. However, his parents convinced him to stay, arguing that if this was the end of his hockey career, he should go out on a high note.
Walking into the stadium for the opening of the games with the pomp, pageantry, and pride was that pinnacle moment. “It was an amazing experience that only a handful of people have ever experienced,” he notes. Landing in a pool play schedule with the United States, Canada, and Germany was a tough draw for the Chinese team, and after three losses, they faced Canada in the playoff round, losing 7-2. Still, Rudi was proud of their performance, especially a competitive 3-2 loss to Germany.
Post-Olympics, Rudi is ready to hang up his skates and chart a new path. He intends to follow his father, actor and director Ying Da, into the film industry as a director. Rudi is attracted by the opportunity to tell stories. He is currently working on several short films and has been approached by the Chinese television industry about a hockey movie. As different as hockey and the movie business may seem, Rudi believes that his first career has prepared him for his second by cultivating leadership skills and teaching him to be comfortable taking charge. “I ended up being the captain on every team that I ever played on,” he says, “because I have a knack for setting the tone and taking control.”

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