The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s basketball team have their final home game this weekend, which means the final chance for fans to see Chas Kok in action. The 22 year old native of Lynden, Washington will lace up his basketball shoes for the final time on Saturday (Feb 11) when the WolfPack entertain the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat at the Tournament Capital Centre.
Although he has only been in Kamloops for two years, he has made a lasting impression on his fellow athletes and his chosen sport. Kok enters the final weekend of the Canada West season with impressive numbers. He has been among the league leaders in minutes played, rebounds, scoring and three point field goals made.
Kok looks back at his final year of university basketball like this: “It has been different for me in the sense that I have had to be a Role Model and a leader rather than someone who follows. I did a little bit of that last year, but this year, it was needed much more because of the number of newcomers that we had. It has been challenging at times realizing that helping others is probably more important than trying to help and train myself.”
Coming to Kamloops in 2010 after being named a Canada West second team all-star with Simon Fraser University, Kok says the past few weeks has seen him have flashbacks about where his favorite sport has taken him: from Skagit Valley Community College in Washington state to SFU and now to TRU and the Interior of British Columbia. “There should always be teammates that helped you along the way,” he says. “ When I was at Skagit, it was a guy by the name of Brad Balch. He worked incredibly hard and in my first year out of high school I saw a guy and a model of how hard to work. When I was at SFU, two guys really were great role models for me. The first being Matt Kuzminski. Matt beat me in nearly every type of drill you could think of, and with his words he let me know about me getting beat all the time, I was pushed to get much better and I think I was able to. The second at SFU that really helped me was Sean Burke. He did a great job of leading at SFU and helping us get to the final four of the Canada West the one year I was there. A lot of what I do as a leader I try to branch off of what Sean did. Here at TRU, one person I don’t necessarily look up to, but I commend the way that Brett Parker can take criticism. The guy has incredibly tough skin and I hope the rest of his time here at TRU goes incredibly well.”
Kok’s first game with the WolfPack came in the summer of 2011 when the team had an exhibition game at the TCC against NCAA Division I school San Diego University. “I felt really good about how my training went all summer, and at the start of the second quarter, my SFU buddy Kevin mishandled the ball at half court, and some San Diego kid dove for the ball, taking my ankle in the process.”
In his short time with the WolfPack, Kok has been the key component in helping turn the basketball program around. It is something he looks upon fondly. “I know when I look back at TRU and what Coach Clark is able to do years from now, I know I had a part in that. I know that building a program takes some time and I feel like this year helped take a step in that direction.”
He says the highlight this year was a game November 5th against the University of the Fraser Valley, a 96-79 victory. “Coming back from a big deficit and coming back to win in front of the home crowd is always a lot of fun. That game we completed really well in the second half and a lot of things clicked for us early. Individually, although we lost, scoring 45 against Lethbridge was a pretty unreal thing for me. Immediately after, I was incredibly displeased with losing, but looking back, the feeling while playing was pretty surreal.”
Kok believes that when the final buzzer sounds on Saturday night, win or lose: it will be something that he will remember for the rest of his life. “I’m sure it will be incredibly emotional for me. I have spent hours upon hours in the gym preparing for games and seasons, so just looking back on all the time that I have spent will be emotional for me. Also, thinking about all the coaches that I have played for, their lessons, and the different teammates that I have played with. The only reason that I am still playing is because of all of the teaching that I received throughout my life from both players and coaches.”
Game time is 7 pm. Kok will be honored by coach Scott Clark and the Athletic Department before the contest.
TIP-IN’S: Kok on words of advice for his younger teammates: “I would say to the guys is enjoy your time and enjoy working hard. Don’t take any day for granted because each and every day you have a chance to get better or worse, and your attitude is the one thing that can control that. When I was a freshman at Lynden, I was taught a very important lesson by my JV coach named Jeb Kratzig. I missed a Saturday practice and after a rough practice filled with a lot of running, he had me run sets of lines under a certain time. After about 6-7 sets of lines needing to be done under a time limit, he made me bear crawl around the gym while the gym was filling up with fans and the girls basketball teams warming up for the girls games that were going on that night. When I went into the locker room, I hyperventilated at my locker, needed to lay down, and my teammate went and got my coach. He told my teammate to leave and told me that missing a practice is missing an opportunity to get better. He told me that I now got to see how hard I can truly work, and since that day, I have worked incredibly hard and have him to thank for it.”
As for his experience as a basketball player: “ I wanted to thank my family. My dad for always being there at my games, being my support, and helping me by rebounding or just talking to me after a game. I want to thank my step mother for letting me train without having to work much other than kids camps in the summers. The reason I was able to train so much was because they allowed me to by not making me work like my other friends had to. My grandpa for watching my games and always letting me know how much he loved watching me play. My Mom because she always allowed me to do what I needed, even if it didn’t benefit her at all. My teammates for helping me enjoy my last year. My high school teammates, junior college teammates, SFU teammates, and last year’s for helping my development and helping me enjoy my time playing hoops. Lastly, all the coaches that I have had. All of their coaching has allowed me to become the basketball player and the person I am today. “