Kalvin Chak has endured his share of adversity in his athletic career.
In his sophomore year at Sobrato High, he broke his right arm which sidelined him for the entire basketball season. Last year, in the midst of a breakout season on the varsity, Chak broke the same arm in the final regular-season contest, taking him out of the playoffs.
However, the 5-foot-9, 140-pound Chak made a speedy recovery post-surgery and gained added confidence during the AAU travel season with the West Valley Basketball Club. The ability to get back on the court helped him enter the high school season prepared for another solid year.
West Valley played in a showcase tournament in Las Vegas featuring just about every major high-profile AAU team in the nation.
“It was really competitive with a lot of good players and being able to play at that tournament helped me for this high school season,” Chak said. “In the summer, I was able to do a lot of workouts and a few tournaments, and playing in those big games got my confidence up.”
As the Sobrato point guard, Chak has done a nice job of limiting turnovers, making sound decisions and playing solid defense. He’s underrated offensively, too, as his 15 points against a tough Santa Teresa squad on Jan. 20 attest.
But the highlight for the entire team had to be when it broke through for its first win in league, 45-44, over Leland on Jan. 27. The Bulldogs are playing in the ultra-tough Blossom Valley Athletic League Mount Hamilton East Division, which would’ve been a tough assignment even without the departure of standout forward Ethan Marmie in December.
However, Chak said he and his teammates’ love for the game and their camaraderie keep him upbeat and positive even though the results haven’t been great from a won-loss standpoint.
“We just love to play, try our best and see what happens,” he said. “We lost our first five league games and things were kind of tough on us, but I think we’re doing pretty good for the skill level we have.”
Knocking off Leland was no small feat. The Chargers beat Sobrato by 26 points in their league opener on Jan. 11. The rematch was a white-knuckle affair, as the game was tied after the end of the second and third quarters. The Bulldogs were up by three points in the waning seconds when they committed a foul on a Leland 3-point attempt.
The Leland player made the first free throw but missed the second, meaning Sobrato was still up by two points with another free throw to follow. Needing to intentionally miss so the Chargers would have a chance to get the offensive rebound to tie it or win it, the Leland player accidentally made the free throw. Sobrato inbounded the ball and ran out the clock, sealing the outcome and averting a near disastrous finish.
“We were excited and now hoping to get more wins,” Chak said. “We are improving and that’s what I like about this team.”
Chak was the backup point guard last season, but wound up starting a handful of games.
“After I started those few games, my confidence improved,” he said. “It felt good to start to see how it would be, and I wasn’t nervous. I just put trust in my skills and worked hard.”
Earlier in the season, Bulldogs coach Sean Tate commended Chak for valuing each possession and limiting turnovers.
“I don’t try to force plays or get into bad situations on the court,” Chak said.
On the surface, the Bulldogs’ 52-39 loss to Christopher on Jan. 25 might not be cause for praise. However, being that the Cougars are undefeated in league play, Chak was proud of how Sobrato played.
“Christopher is No. 1 in our league and really good, and when we played them, we did better than we expected,” Chak said. “I played with a lot of those guys growing up [in local NJB], so that made it fun as well.”
Chak, who first started playing the sport when he was 5 years old, doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play competitive basketball next year, but his future seems bright regardless. Having taken his academics seriously, Chak has already earned a six-figure academic scholarship from a private university in Oregon and is awaiting to hear back from other schools soon.
“For college wherever I go, if it’s possible to walk-on, I’ll try it and do my best,” he said. “But if I don’t make it, I’ll focus on school and do fine.”