Athlete of the Week: Phurin Kosumpiinun

An exclusive interview with Phurin Kosumpiinun, who came all the way from Thailand to play on the men’s volleyball team and earned a spot as athlete of the week.


Photo provided by COD Athletics

Lily Goodfellow, Sports Writer

Athlete of the Week: Phurin Kosumpiinun

Sport: Volleyball

Position: Setter

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand

High School: Wells International School


Lily Goodfellow: Did you play volleyball in Thailand?

Phurin Kosumpiinun: I did play volleyball in Thailand. I started in my sophomore year in high school, a little bit late compared to my peers. They had been playing volleyball throughout middle school. My high school, Wells International School, has a great volleyball program. The headmaster of the school is actually the head volleyball coach, and he was very influential to me being here. As a team, we always traveled. We traveled all over Southeast Asia. We would go to Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and most recently a Chicago trip over the summer. Even though we were a high school team, we applied [to the tournament] as a club team, and since Coach Tolis [Koskinaris] is also a club owner, he was there at the tournament and we were able to talk and set up a tour for my team of the COD campus. It was an awesome experience.


LG: How did you decide to come to College of DuPage all the way from Bangkok?

PS: Funny story. I was actually in my gap year and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was still very interested in volleyball and pursuing a college education here in America. But I didn’t know what pathways there were. I walked into my headmaster’s office (he’s also my coach). He told me that a volleyball foundation was giving away $10,000 to ten or fifteen schools. COD was one of them. It was just an idea that I could come here since they were starting a men’s volleyball team here. So, my coach hinted at the idea of bringing the high school team over to play in the club tournaments here, because normally we go to Hawaii. It was convenient since it gave me the chance to visit over the summer. So that was how I made the decision to come to COD to pursue my college education.


LG: What is the hardest part about being so far from home?

PS: Definitely missing my family and friends. Moving here is a whole learning experience. Coming here is a whole different environment and a whole different society, so I need to learn how to fit in. Everyone has been very accommodating so far.


LG: How have your coaches helped you?

PS:  Coach Tolis and Coach Frankie [Martinez] have been very helpful to me. Coach Frankie has been the main person to help me transfer my credits from high school and make sure that everything is in order so that nothing goes wrong and I am eligible to play for the season. Tolis has been a great coach leading the team.


LG: What are your greatest accomplishments in volleyball?

PS: In my senior year, we participated in one of the largest volleyball tournaments in Southeast Asia. We were very anxious going into the tournament but we took home the championship trophy. It was one of the biggest championship matches that I’ve been a part of. 


LG: Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

PS: It’s by Hemingway. “There’s nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”


LG: That’s a really great quote! Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

PS: I had a lot of mentors growing up, so this is going to be hard. One of them is probably going to be mad if I don’t pick them. But I would say that my headmaster, my coach from high school, has been a huge influence in this part of my life. Not only was he a headmaster to me, but he was also my coach and mentor. He not only taught me volleyball, but he also taught me many life lessons through sports. That has been very influential and has led me to going into sports management. All of the classes I am taking here at COD right now are very sports-centered. I saw the true value in sports since high school and that has continued with my great experience here at COD. The passion for sports at COD has made me feel very at home. 


LG: What is your favorite food?

PS: That is a very hard question because I am a foodie. I guess the criteria is something I can’t live without. One of my favorite foods growing up was a dish that is basically deep fried fish with this really sweet relish on the side, a fresh mango relish that’s spicy and sweet. I ate that with rice and it was so good. It was my “go to” dish.


LG: What do you like most about living here?

PS: Illinois is very different from what I imagined. I thought people would be more distant and cold. But surprisingly the people here are very nice and have been accommodating. I have met many great people in my time here. 


LG: Did you see snow for the first time since you’ve been here?

PS: Spending a winter here was not what I expected. I expected a winter wonderland. Seeing snow for the first time was a great experience, but experiencing the cold for a couple of months was very tough.


LG: What are some of your favorite hobbies?

PS: When I was younger, I was really into gaming. One of my favorite hobbies was actually speed cubing. At 12 I picked up speed cubing and I entered a couple competitions in Thailand. But it’s not that big of a sport there compared to here, but it was something I was really into learning about through the internet.  


LG: What was your fastest time?

PS: My fastest record was around 15 or 16 seconds.


LG: Wow. That’s really cool. What is your favorite class right now?

PS: My favorite class is currently sports marketing. Even though I’m not doing well in that class, Professor Stephanie Vlach has been a great professor. She’s really passionate with her teachings, and she uses a lot of external examples where we analyze other companies’ marketing plans. It’s really interesting to see how things run behind the scenes.  I have learned so much and really like the marketing side of sports.


LG: Where do you see yourself in five years?

PS: I see myself on a beach sipping pina coladas. Realistically, I’ll be back in Thailand and I’ll probably be working for my high school. My long term goal is to be a sports director at my old high school. I will likely start coaching and be a sports assistant director and work my way towards that goal. But I’m a go-with-the-flow type of guy, so whatever happens, happens. 


LG: What one word best describes you?

PS: I would say jolly. \That’s a very hard question.  


LG: Thank you so much, Phurin. 

PS: No worries! That was very fun. That was my first interview for sports!