Sports

Joung ’11 fights back from brain tumor, stars in final game

By
Sports Editor
Friday, February 25, 2011

Women’s hockey goalie Joy Joung ’11 had brain surgery to remove a tumor this summer, turning her world upside down — she had to be discharged from the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Providence College — and putting her senior season on the women’s hockey team in jeopardy. But just months after the surgery, Joung returned to the ice for her final game in a Brown uniform. The veteran goaltender gave a stellar performance, making 38 saves and leading the team to a 3-3 tie against Quinnipiac on Senior Day. For her incredible comeback and outstanding performance in her final game, The Herald named Joung Athlete of the Week.  

The Herald: How did it feel to tie Quinnipiac and make 38 saves in the final game of your Brown hockey career and in your first start in net since the 2008-09 season?

Joung: It felt awesome. We had lost to Quinnipiac, I think 4-0 or 6-0, the first time we played them, which was at Quinnipiac. And obviously it was a big weekend with lots of emotion, with Senior Day and even Pink at the Rink the day before, against Princeton. And personally, to be able to play the entire game was definitely a good way to go out. And for it to end like that, with 38 saves and pulling the tie out, it was really great. The only thing that could’ve really gone better was to get the win.   

At the beginning of the season, there was some doubt that you would be cleared to play because of your brain surgery over the summer. When and how did you find out you needed the surgery?

I was diagnosed last spring and I had surgery June 28 of this past summer. I had been having — which I didn’t even know about at the time — but I had been having weird amnesia episodes and what I later learned were seizures pretty much all throughout last year … My roommates, who are also on the team, convinced me to go get it checked out, and so I was diagnosed in the spring here and then went home to have the surgery done.  

What effect has the surgery had on you?

It’s definitely been … a big piece of adversity that I’ve faced in my life. Especially the way that I went down, just because it was at the end of my junior year. I had just done an entire year of ROTC, being the only ROTC cadet from Brown, driving down to Providence College every morning, not getting much sleep, being pretty stressed out, playing hockey at the same time. And then, to have that year end with finding out you have a brain tumor, having to go to surgery. I think you end up having a lot of doubts about your ability, not only as an athlete, but as a student, as a person. You kind of question what you remember and what happened, because I actually don’t remember a lot of what happened last year.

Speaking of ROTC, you had been the only student on campus participating in the ROTC program through Providence College. What made you decide to join the program?

It’s actually something I kind of wanted to do for a long time. My dad was in the military in Korea, and he got me started in martial arts when I was four years old. So I think the mentality and the culture is very similar, and he’s someone that’s influenced me a lot growing up. So it’s a goal that I’d had before, and I was originally planning on going to OCS — which is Officer Candidates School — after graduation. But I just happened to go over to talk to the cadre members at Providence College, and they were completely willing to work out my hockey schedule and my school schedule with the ROTC schedule, so I definitely jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, I’m not in the program anymore, because I got discharged obviously, because of the brain surgery. But there is one cadet now from Brown. He’s a freshman on the football team, a great guy, and so he’s taken the reins. You know, I’ve passed on the torch to him.  

How did you manage to balance school, hockey and the Army?

It was interesting. I wish I could say that I remember more about what happened. But I do know for sure that it was difficult and (I) didn’t get much sleep. I usually worked out two or three times a day, which was probably the hardest part because I think after a while, your body gets used to not sleeping. But when you wake up at five, you know, 0500, five in the morning, especially in the dead of the winter, carrying your, you know, 50-pound pack out the door to go to PT — physical training — in the mornings and then coming back, going to class, and then from class going to hockey practice, you know, being at the rink for five hours a day, sometimes you have (to) lift in the weight room after practice. So then you have to come home and do your homework. It’s definitely a grueling schedule, but I think — especially with ROTC — if you really want to do it, you make it work. And that was definitely the case last year for me.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?

I was planning to go into the intelligence field in the Army. And when they discharged me this fall, I definitely decided to go a similar direction, just as a civilian. So I’ve been talking to a few agencies in the intelligence community, and I’m hoping to just start in an analyst position or whatnot in one of those organizations, which I think is kind of perfect for me because a lot of those organizations either have military personnel directly in their organization, or they work hand-in-hand with the military. So I think it’s the perfect thing for me to do since my original plan was to be in the Army for at least four or five years on active duty.  

What will be your favorite memory from Brown?

I think just because it happened this past Saturday, but I think Saturday’s game against Quinnipiac was such a fun game to be a part of. Especially having gone through the last year and a half and not having gotten much playing time for a while now. It was just a great game, it was an exciting game, it was back and forth, a lot of great clutch goals by our team. Obviously I was pretty busy that night — 41 shots total. So it was fun to go out that way. It was fun to tie a team like Quinnipiac, who we lost to so significantly before. And I think it was just a really emotionally charged game. I definitely played for my teammates, and my teammates played for me. My teammates played great in front of me. It was almost like a picture-perfect way to go out.