Jennifer Hansen’s review of Vera Koo’s memoir aptly describes Vera’s life – on and off the shooting range. If you don’t know Vera Koo, you may meet her here, and if you want to know more about her, buy her book. ~BB
“Champions” are thought to be young, robust athletes, born into a sport. With their entire lives defined by the sport, they spend their days (and years) training, exercising, sleeping, eating etc. – having no social or professional lives beyond competing. But that’s not all champions – and that’s not Vera Koo.
Vera is a world shooting champion. She is the first and only woman in the history of the NRA’s Bianchi Cup to win 8 National Women’s Titles and 2 world titles. Vera came to the shooting sports in her late 40s and achieved most of her titles later in life as a wife, mother, grandmother and a business professional. At the age of 72, she officially retired from competitive shooting.
Vera’s story as a “champion” is less about her success on the range as it is off of it. Vera was born in Hong Kong and emigrated to the US at the age of 12. Born into a culturally traditional and male-dominated environment, Vera was raised to be a proper wife and mother. Becoming a competitive pistol shooter, owning a successful business and possessing a deep Christian spirituality were certainly not how a young Chinese girl expected her life to unfold in America.
Like many, Vera had her share of heartbreak over the years. Vera’s story is as much about strength and self-realization, as it is a memoir of a remarkable woman.
I am a business executive. In business as in sports, we often focus on our losses. We over analyze each missed step and plan what we will do differently in the future. But what about the times we win? Do we study what went well? Do we know why? Understanding loss is important but understanding why we win is critical to repeating it.
Winning 8 women’s titles was no accident. Of course, she is talented, but it was Vera’s deep understanding of her mental process, her body, how she heals, and understanding her faith – that allowed her to succeed competitively … and personally. Vera may be a champion in the shooting sports, but because of her amazing self-awareness, she is champion in life.
As women, we can be incredibly self-critical. Vera’s story is a reminder that “champions” aren’t defined externally – by scoreboards, metals or what people think of us. Champions are made internally – 1 thought at a time.
You may purchase a copy of Vera Koo’s The Most Unlikely Champion: A Memoir at Amazon. It is available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle editions.
Jennifer Hansen is a senior executive with more than 20 years of general management experience leading businesses and people. Jennifer started her career in non-profit management and fundraising. Later, she spent 14 years with The Walt Disney Company where she led the Radio Disney business across the US. Jennifer has worked with and consulted for companies across many industries including automotive, consumer goods and entertainment. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Baldwin Wallace College and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Jennifer and her husband David enjoy shooting sporting clays and have been parents to 3 Newfoundlands and a hound.
Jennifer published her first book, Management Musings from an Accidental Sabbatical; Thoughts of work, life, home … and Dogs, available on Amazon.