Sports at the HNC: Students share about on- and off-campus activities

Sports at the HNC: Students share about on- and off-campus activities

Despite their busy study schedule, Hopkins-Nanjing Center students often find time to participate in organized sports during their time in Nanjing. With the resumption of normal activities at Nanjing University and in campuses across China in the last few months, students have had ample opportunities to stay active in Nanjing University's Gulou campus and across Jiangsu province. We asked HNC students about some of the sports and activities in which they have participated over the past semester.

Basketball Team – Wang Zikun MAIS’24 

The HNC has long participated in the Nanjing University graduate student basketball tournament. Prior to the pandemic, students from the HNC would form a team to play against teams from different schools within the university. When Wang Zikun saw the trophies won by HNC basketball teams in the past, he felt motivated to revive this tradition. He was finally able to do so this Spring semester with more and more Chinese and international students coming back on campus. In partnership with the Urban Construction School, and with HNC sponsorship, the basketball team was officially restarted and ready to participate in the tournament. Students sometimes meet on the HNC basketball court to practice, but more often end up meeting on other courts in Nanjing University to play with other students. With everyone’s busy and often conflicting schedules, students tend to meet sporadically between 1-3 times a week on the Gulou campus. The practices are very casual and are open to anyone on the court that wishes to participate in 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 games. For Wang Zikun, starting up the basketball team at the HNC re-ignited his interest in the sport. During his undergraduate studies, he regularly played with his friends at Nanjing University, but due to Covid and a busy academic life he had been playing much less often. Restarting the HNC basketball team also gave him and other students a chance to not only play together, but also exchange about their different cultures and languages. The team is a special way to bring Chinese and international students together, deepen their understanding of basketball by learning new terms in Chinese and in English, and especially to learn about each other. Through this experience, Wang Zikun has felt a sense of belonging, not only to a friend group and a team, but especially to a strong and supportive community.

Badminton Club – Liu Yi, MAIS’24

The badminton club was founded spontaneously by a group of students and by Professor Paul Armstrong-Taylor during the winter break, as a way to exercise. The group has grown since, with many joining on WeChat and during practices when they are available. The club tends to meet 2 to 4 times a week, depending on people’s availabilities. Interest is first garnered on WeChat, and then Liu Yi or another student will book a court on the Nanjing University App. Booking the court can be challenging because they run out fast, so it is recommended to wake up at 8am to get one. Once a practice session is set up, students sometimes meet directly at the court, or in the lobby of the HNC and walk over together. There are typically 3 to 4 students that come to practice, and sometimes 6 or 8. There are no competitions organized yet, given that the meetups are casual and that everyone is amateurs. However, if there is enough interest and more people decide to join, an inter-departmental competition with Nanjing University could be feasible. For Liu Yi, joining the badminton club has meant she can exercise more with her peers and see notable progress in herself and her teammates when they practice together. Thanks to the badminton club, she has learned various techniques to move more effectively on the court, hit the birdie with more force, and to reduce the risk of injury.

“Nankings” Ultimate Frisbee Club – Noah Smith, MAIS’23

Noah Smith first heard about “Nankings” in 2019. The club is composed of its founder, an Irish American, and mostly Chinese players which include professionals and students from various universities in Nanjing. The team is mixed, and they meet mostly on weekends, either at Xuanwu Lake or other places with enough field space. Practice times and frequency can vary and attendance is entirely voluntary. The club occasionally plays against clubs from other cities and can sign up for tournaments hosted either in Nanjing or neighboring cities. This year in April, the club participated in the national frisbee tournament held in Nanjing, the first of its kind since the lifting of Covid measures. 16 teams in total competed from all over Jiangsu province. For Noah, the “Nankings” ultimate frisbee club is an ideal way to improve his skills and to understand how high-level frisbee is played in China. Participating in this club is also a great way to stay active and meet people outside of the HNC. A highlight of the club has been the spirit of camaraderie and spirit of the game that the sport diffuses. All games are self-officiated, and referees are only supposed to give their opinion on a disagreement when asked. This ‘spirit of the game’ trickles over to other aspects, and creates a welcoming and cheerful atmosphere, where opponents will casually play games during the time out. There is overall less of a sense of competition and more of camaraderie in the Chinese teams Noah has played with.


The Nanjing University Gulou campus boasts an Olympic-size swimming pool that students often go to to exercise and cool off when the temperature rises. The entrance fee is 10RMB and swimmers are required to wear a swim cap. Students sometimes go together in the evenings when the pool is usually more empty, to relax after a busy day.

Written by Sophia Pradels MAIS '24