Among the 40 players who participated in the 2023-2024 V-League Women’s Rookie Draft, held at Mayfield Hotel in Oebalsan-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, on April 10, there was one player who stood out. Gwangju Women’s University libero Lee Chae-eun (Pepper Savings Bank).
While some of the players came from volleyball families, such as Kim Se-bin (Korea Expressway Corporation), the second daughter of KEPCO Chairman Kim Cheol-soo and former women’s national team member Kim Nam-soon, and Choi Seo-hyun (Hyundai E&C-Sanghan Bomgo), the child of KOVO referee Ki Nam-i, it was her unique background that made Lee’s challenge so intriguing.
For Lee, the rookie draft was a second chance. The bar was high for Lee, who tried out for the rookie draft last year before graduating from Pohang Girls’ High School. No team called her name. But she didn’t give up. She enrolled at Gwangju Women’s University, which did not have a professional volleyball team, after coach Choi Sung-woo told her that he would nurture her dream of returning to the V-League. In her second attempt, she was selected as a trainee by the Gwangju-based Pepper Savings Bank, the youngest team in the V-League Women’s Division. Gwangju Women’s University had started a professional volleyball team the previous month.
Although she is entering the professional ranks a year later than her peers, Lee’s rookie draft selection is a significant achievement not only for her, but also for the entire V-League. Historically, the V-League women’s rookie draft has been a stage for high school graduates. It’s not much different from taking the SAT exam. Players who were drafted by professional teams before their high school graduation were expected to leave the event smiling, while those who were not drafted were expected to cry.
But Lee didn’t let that stop her. She tried again and achieved something significant. This is the first time in the history of the V-League that a college student has been drafted since its inception in 2005. Lee’s professional designation is not only expected to revitalize women’s college volleyball, but it is also a clear indication that there is a second chance for players who were not selected in the rookie draft.
Women’s volleyball in South Korea has faced many challenges in recent years. Chief among them is a lack of talent, as many of the players who have helped drive the sport’s popularity are entering the twilight years of their careers and there are concerns that there isn’t much talent to replace them. However, if you look at the history of women’s volleyball, there have been many cases where players who played well in middle and high school have had to give up their volleyball dreams because they were not selected by professional teams. Lee and Pepper Savings Bank may have created an important turning point in the history of the women’s V-League with this rookie draft.
Lee stuck to the path that many of her predecessors had not taken, and eventually, after a second try, she put on her long-awaited professional jersey. “I wanted to break the idea that you can’t apply for the draft after going to college,” says Lee, who cried tears of joy when her name was called. “I wanted to show the younger generation that you can still be drafted after going to college, and that you just have to try again,” she says proudly.토토사이트
Despite wearing a professional uniform, Lee’s challenge faced new obstacles. At Pepper Savings Bank, she has to compete for survival with other proven liberos in the league, including Oh Ji-young, Moon Seul-ki, and Kim Hae-bin. “My role model is (Oh) Ji-young, who is a fighter. I want to be a player who stands out for her fighting spirit even if I don’t have great skills.” Lee Chae-eun’s role model, Oh Ji-young, is an athlete who continued to challenge herself even after entering the professional ranks. That’s why we’re looking forward to seeing the results of Lee’s second attempt.