Union Hockey’s Foo brothers share their Olympic dream playing for China

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Born four years apart, Spencer and Parker Foo never played on a hockey team together when they were growing up in Edmonton, Alberta. They both skated for Union College, but Spencer left early for the pros the year before Parker arrived at Schenectady.

They now have the chance to be teammates on the biggest stage in the world.

The Foo brothers, of Chinese descent, are playing for China at the Beijing Olympics. The Chinese open play against the United States at 8:10 a.m. Thursday.

Spencer, 27, and Parker, 23, are both forwards who have spent the past two seasons with HC Kunlun Red Star, a Beijing-based Continental Hockey League team that plays its home games in Moscow during the pandemic due to travel restrictions.

“I actually had a very tough decision to make when I left college (in 2017) because if I had stayed another year I would have played with Park in his first season.” , wrote Spencer Foo from Beijing. “When I decided to leave, I was afraid that we wouldn’t have that chance anymore. Fortunately, this opportunity with Kunlun and China came along and it was amazing to play together. Being able to feed each other others and working together to improve our games every day is something few brothers and sisters get to do.”

The Foo brothers walked together during the opening ceremonies last Friday.

“It was so surreal to come out in front of a packed stadium to cheer us on,” said Spencer Foo. “It was something I will never forget.”

They will represent a country neither of them had ever visited until Spencer Foo decided to leave the Calgary Flames organization to play in China. He played four games with the Flames in 2018 and mostly skated for their American Hockey League affiliate in Stockton, Calif.

Chinese officials recruited players from all over the world to form a competitive team for the Olympic Games. They persuaded Spencer and Parker, who also left Union for a year at the start of 2020 when the Dutchman’s season was canceled by the pandemic.

Spencer, a 2017 Hobey Baker runner-up, said he saw it as an opportunity to set an example for other Asian hockey players. He said he was almost always the only Asian player on the teams he played for in his youth.

“The Olympics are obviously a huge stage and most kids dream of playing there one day,” Spencer Foo said. “For us, this is a great opportunity to represent China and advance our own careers, but more than that, we see it as a huge chance to develop the game of hockey in China and for children of Asian descent. around the world. … If seeing us on the Olympic stage convinces even a kid who looks like me to pick up a hockey stick, then it will all have been worth it.”

On the Chinese list, they are listed by the Chinese translation of Shuai Fu (Parker Foo) and Jiang Fu (Spencer Foo).

Their parents, John Foo and Diane Shaw, will wake up early to watch their sons play in the Olympics. There is a 15 hour time difference between Edmonton and Beijing. Due to COVID-19, no tickets were sold to spectators outside mainland China.

Foo and Shaw run a business called Education Station, which sells educational supplies and educational materials to schools, parents, and children. They watch their sons play for China several generations after John Foo’s family left Hong Kong and moved to Guyana. John Foo was born in Georgetown, Guyana before moving to Edmonton.

After facing the United States, China will play Saturday against Germany, then Sunday against Canada, the country of origin of the Foos. The Canadian roster includes former Union hockey player Daniel Carr, who is a good friend of Spencer Foo.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Shaw said of his sons playing in the Olympics. “I can’t even imagine when they’re so little this could be the path they would end up going. We’re so proud of them and the fact that they’re together. It’s really hard for us not to be able to to go there and be there, but to be together and to be able to share this experience as brothers, it’s really special.”


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