YSU coach and Paris native responds to attacks on hometown

YSU tennis Coach Mikael Sopel talks about growing up in Paris and the recent attacks there.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Youngstown State University coach who has a personal connection to Paris wants to see the people there begin healing after the attack last week.

YSU’s tennis coach Mickael Sopel was born and raised just outside of Paris and then moved to the United States when he was 21.

On Friday, when he saw the videos of Paris under attack, he said he could not believe what he was seeing.

Sopel found out about the attacks on this hometown through texts from his sister. She told him that their family was OK.

But, Sopel couldn’t believe the news. He was just in Paris in July, in fact, near the location of the explosions and gunfire.

He says, before Friday, that section of the city was very vibrant.

“It’s a more artistic area,” he said. “There’s a lot of little restaurants, little places. It’s a dynamic area, for sure. There’s a lot going on there. Lots of concerts, literature, a lot of life, a lot of happy people hanging out.”

While there is more sorrow there now than happiness, Sopel believes the city will get back on its feet.

“I think we’re going to strong. There’s going to be a strong reaction to it, for sure,” he said. “People want to see an aggressive response to it.”

France has already responded to the attacks. The country has sent jets to Syria, targeting ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Right now, he said people, not only in Paris but all over the world, are living in fear.

“Between all the big cities, people are really careful. Everyone is looking around,” he said. “Even here, you go somewhere and you look around to see if everything is OK.”

He said that fear does not take away from the pride his country has, however.

“I think there is a strong feeling of identity in France,” he said. “People are proud to be French.”

He has encouraging words for the French during this difficult time.

“Liberte. Egalite. Fraternite. Which is Freedom, equality, brotherhood,” he said.

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