When sports fans in Northeast Ohio were on edge through the Cleveland Cavaliers’ championship run last June, second-year medical student Ann Xing was right along with them—in the front row.
Xing reported on the Cavs through the 2015-16 season for the popular Chinese TV network LeSports, and traveled between Oakland, California, and Cleveland throughout the NBA Finals.
“It seemed to be like a dream, especially with the up and down historical moments,” she said. “I cried when [the Cavaliers] won game three. And then [Cavs forward] Richard Jefferson saw me crying and said ‘Hold your tears until we win the championship.’ He said that with confidence.”
Xing has covered the Cavs since 2012, when she moved to Cleveland as an engineer for Philips Healthcare. She continued covering the team when she enrolled in the School of Medicine. Previously, she had received her master’s degree in biomedical imaging from the University of California, San Francisco—and covered the Warriors for the Chinese branch of SLAM Magazine.
Though the Cavs and Warriors competed in the NBA Finals, Xing considers her bond to Cleveland much stronger.
Before SLAM Magazine, Xing hadn’t been trained in journalism, but was a long-time basketball fan.
From a small city in China where English education was not extensive, Xing learned the language by watching basketball. Along the way, she became curious about American culture, and discovered cities in the United States by watching their NBA teams play on TV.
As a reporter, she found that many other Chinese fans have a similar curiosity to learn about more than just stats and the players—they want to know what Quicken Loans Arena and Cleveland are like. So, Xing picked up her phone and started recording while walking the arena to give her followers a better view of what it’s really like to attend a game.
“I received a lot of really good feedback online,” she said. “It became very popular.”
LeSports recruited her and, with an increasingly busy schedule as a medical student, Xing knew broadcast would be a better venue long term than writing for the magazine.
Now, she attends a game once a month to produce a show. That format fits her schedule better, as she’s often balancing studies and her role as media chair for the Student-Run Free Clinic.
Xing thinks covering the Cavs also has helped her become a better physician, because talking about the team with patients gives them common ground.
“That’s super important as a clinician—for the patients to feel comfortable around you,” she said.
And while the balance of being a reporter and attending medical school can be tricky, Xing knows that, ultimately, it’s beneficial.
“We need time off from study anyway for medical school for mental health purposes,” Xing said. “For me, the stress-reliever is basketball, and it happened to be a hobby and a job. I’m very lucky in that way.”
Next time you’re watching the Cavs, see if you can get a glimpse of Xing in the press box, but for now, get to know her better in this week’s five questions.
1. What do you like most about Cleveland?
I like a lot of things about Cleveland. I think people in Cleveland are super nice and they’re very passionate about life in general. There are little gems in Cleveland—you have to go discover them. But once you go and discover, there’s this unique beauty about it.
I feel like this is a very tight-knit community. It’s tight-knit by this common belief—and I think the Cavs are a big manifestation of it—that Cleveland is not cursed and it should not be portrayed as it is.
2. What’s your favorite social media platform?
It’s almost like a Chinese Twitter, but it’s not Twitter. It’s called Weibo. I use that and have a lot of followers on there. I share videos and pictures and I can interact with fans all the time—they have questions. I see myself as a bridge between the players and the fans.
3. What was the most influential class you’ve ever taken?
I took a class called “Deconstruction of Race in Medicine.” It’s an elective class through the medical school. It addressed the historical reasons why health care is this way—why things are certain ways, tracing it historically. I’m not American, so it’s great to learn.
4. If you could meet any historical figure, who would you pick, and why?
I’m interested in Frederick Sanger, who was the first person to sequence DNA—anyone from that DNA era. I want to know what it’s like to discover the genetic codes and open a complete new field. If I could be placed back historically, I could be the one telling them all the great things that were the outcomes of this DNA era.
5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
I like how flexible the medical school curriculum is and how supportive everybody is. If I didn’t have a flexible curriculum or supportive staff members—or just a supportive environment—I wouldn’t be able to still being doing what I enjoy.