Yale and Harvard aren’t just on the wish list of Saint Louis senior Isaac Silva.
Those are among several schools the football and basketball player has sent applications to, and with a 4.3 grade-point average, Silva knows his dream could be realized. There are also schools on the West Coast, mostly smaller, that are burgeoning opportunities. There’s also Washington and UCLA. One way or another, he plans on continuing with football, where he was third in receptions for the Open Division champions.
“Isaac is the type of person who will ride for you. Ride or die type of guy,” teammate Koali Nishigaya said. “We just crack a lot of jokes to each other to each other and we like to compete against each other. We’re always trying to see who drops more balls or who makes more plays. It helps get everyone going.”
The constant tasks of academics and year-round training wears some student-athletes down. Silva seems to thrive on pressure and demands. Give him a day off and he’s giving back. On a sunny, calm Sunday afternoon when he stopped by a park to meet up with longtime friend Nate Dudoit, whose son, Manti, has picked up a passion for basketball. They spent an hour working out, Silva patiently explaining and demonstrating ballhandling techniques.
“It was fun. I learned a lot from Isaac, especially the rip move,” said Manti, a fourth grader at Ali‘iolani Elementary School.
Silva’s father, Kalani, coached girls basketball at Kamehameha-Hawaii and continues to coach youth hoops in Honolulu. Silva’s sister, Zoe, plays for dad on a sixth-grade team.
Saint Louis offensive coordinator Ron Lee isn’t surprised by any of Silva’s goals. He also envisions Silva as a mentor and coach eventually.
“I think Isaac would be a helluva coach. He has all those traits. He has the gift. The guy that can get a 4.5, play football and basketball, and train in the offseason, that’s pretty special. Whether he goes to an Ivy League school, goes into coaching, he’s really, really humble,” Lee said. “He never talks about himself and he’s very confident in what he does.”
In fact, Lee hasn’t asked yet, but has some hope that Silva will stick around before he leaves for college.
“I want him to help us when he can with our receivers here. He’d be great. He might not know yet,” Lee said.
With all four starting pass catchers — Roman Wilson, Matt Sykes, Koali Nishigaya and Silva — graduating in four months, there is much to teach.
The deliberate, step-by-step approach, the even-keeled personality — Silva’s connection with youth players is essentially a replica of a young Kainoa Correa, another Hilo athlete who worked with baseball keiki before moving on the the college and MLB ranks.
“Being able to communicate with young athletes is very important, to get up their intensity level and bringing the most out of them. I can relate to that with my dad,” Silva said.
Silva began playing football for the Keaukaha Warriors at age 6, first in flag, then tackle. He describes himself as “small and slow” when he moved from Hilo to Honolulu to attend Saint Louis as a freshman.
“It was a very humbling experience. Coming from the Big Island, I felt like I was one of the better receivers, but coming here I was the worst wide receiver on the JV. I was always in the back of the line,” he said. “I was smaller than everyone else. I was skinny. I was weak. I was slow. I had to work twice as hard as everyone else just to keep up.”
There were busy, sometimes solitary workouts.
“Weight lifting before school. Then you have school and practice. Work on your hands after practice, then field drills by yourself,” Silva recalled. “I was behind Matt Sykes and Roman Wilson, so I decided to move to slot.”
The shorter routes, intricate footwork and Silva’s capacity to retain information all converged.
“It was more quick cuts and I was able to pick that up because of basketball. It was tough, though, because there’s a lot more reads inside. You’re reading three defenders on one play, but you pick it up as you go.”
Receivers coach Gerald Welch offered plenty of support when Silva decided to try out for varsity as a sophomore.
“He’s very encouraging. Coach Ron is very particular about everything. Everything has to be perfect. Coach Gerald is always there to help you out,” Silva said. “It was a blessing being coached by him.”
Step by step, he moved up the depth chart, which was 10 deep. Now, two years later, Silva has endured through injury and every possible challenge at the highest level.
“It helped me grow my faith in God. That was really a growth phase for me. I got stronger mentally. I worked on my mind and I worked on myself. I got stronger, gained weight. It was a blessing in disguise. I improved my ability to read defenses. You see the defense as a bigger picture,” he said.
Saint Louis football, basketball
Sr., 5-10, 161
Q&A / Favorites
Athlete: Russell Westbrook
“I love how he plays on the court, his intensity, and I try to apply that to me. But also, Kobe (Bryant), too. I just like the manba mentality, and I think that’s what Russell brings out, too. They both have the work ethic.
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
“I was born into it. My dad is a Steelers fan. For basketball, I used to really like Oklahoma City because my dad went to college in Seattle, and he turned me on to the SuperSonics. When they moved, I just followed them because I liked Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Right now, I don’t pay attention.
Food at home: Spaghetti
“My mom (Jodi) makes it. Ground beef, spaghetti sauce, garlic bread. I can make it.
Food eating out: Sushi
“I like Kats Sushi on Kapiolani.”
Hobby outside of sports: I like to read
“I like any type of book, but right now I’m reading more business books.”
Movie: Bad Boys (series)
“It used to be Bad Boys 2, but this new one is really good.”
TV show: Suits
“It’s about this lawyer and corporate law. It’s super interesting, but it has drama like a regular TV show.”
Video game: “I don’t play.”
Is Fortnite a drug?
“For some people. Some people are addicted to it. I just never found it interesting.”
“I used to when I was in middle school, even freshman, sophomore year. (NBA)2K, Madden.”
(EA Sports) NCAA has a trailer.
“I’ve been so busy. I don’t have time.”
Music artist: A-Boogie Wit Da Hoodie
Teacher: Mrs. Lorraine Perez
“She’s my Spanish teacher, and she’s also my advisor. Always has my back.”
“I’m getting a 4.5 (this semester). I think there are other students, two or three, getting higher (GPAs).
Class: AP Biology
“I don’t really science, to be honest, but it was just the teacher.”
Place to relax: Home
Motto/scripture: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
What does mom (Jodi) say that you never forget: Always treat others with respect.
What does dad (Kalani) say that you never forget: “He always tells me to be even-keeled, have a balanced state of mind in every aspect of life. Don’t get too high or too low.
What do your coaches say that you never forget?
“Coach Randy (Apele) has always been a big influence on my life, like my second dad. He always hits you with a quote here and there.”
How does sports affect your life year-round?
“Pretty much, it’s every day. It’s lifting every day, doing field work for football. In the summers, football starts June 1, five days a week, all the way into the season to December. There’s film before practice. Coach Ron (Lee) lives in the film room.”
Middle school and elementary school
“KS-Hawaii from kindergarten to eighth grade.”
“Keaukaha Warriors (flag and tackle football). I played center field in baseball. I was all right.”
“Basketball in Las Vegas, Jam On It tournament. I was in fifth grade. It’s just a wake-up call. Down here, you can dominate the teams, especially on the Big Island. You go up there, they’re better than you. It really motivates us as players. In our program (Hoop Dreams), fundamentals were always stressed. We would have practice every day, and on Sundays, we would have a fundamental clinic just going over skill work. Waiakea Uka has always been our home gym. It has bleachers now, but it’s just a small, country gym.”
What is something you like to do that might surprise people?
“I would say read. I pace myself. If you read every day, you’re a step ahead of everyone else. I really want to be an an investment banker or stockbroker. Having clients, managing money, even managing money for corporations.”
“You always want to go to the future, right. That’s always been interesting to me. Maybe the year 2100. Flying cars or something innovative. Like Star Wars, people might have light sabers. To go in the past, I would really like to talk to Martin Luther King. That has always been an inspiration for me. I would’ve warned him, but he was receiving death threats all the time, so I guess he was used to it. I would talk to him about how he would change the world. Did he have doubts? How did he get over those obstacles?”
“I always wanted to go to a Pittsburgh Steelers game at Hines Field. I want to go to an Ivy League school. I want to work in New York City at a a big investment banking firm. Competition, that’s what drives me. I guess, playing D-I college football. That’s been a dream for me since I was a kid. I fit was a choice between D-I and Ivy League, I’d play Ivy League and play FCS.”
History and background of your name
“My parents both chose my first name. Keawe is the southern or northern star. It’s the name of one of the chiefs who was prominent in the islands. My (paternal) grandparents are from Hilo. My grandmother is Janie Apele. They had four (children). My dad was the oldest and the first one to graduate from college. My mom’s (maiden) name is Yamamoto. They’re from Oahu. My dad was going to Seattle Pacific and my mom was going to UW. My dad is a persuasive person.”
“I guess it’s basically how much you’re willing to invest in your child’s education. It’s a burden. My family was split in two. My dad came up here with me, and it’s my sister and mom at home. I understand the struggles of having to pay for tuition and stuff. All the private schools here on Oahu are really good. They offer great educational opportunities. If you’re thinking about applying for a private school, I think it would be worth it. Deciding on which private school it is, maybe you should look at what sport your child plays or whatever you feel your preference is. I chose Saint Louis for the football program. If some school has a great robotics program and your child is interested in that, then yeah, send him there. No regrets.”
“I just want to shout out my parents. Thank you for everything, sacrificing everything for me to move up here. I want to say thank you to my coaches, Coach Ron, Coach Gerald, (basketball) Coach Dan (Hale) for everything you put into the programs here at Saint Louis. Thank you to my teammates in football and basketball for pushing me every day to be the person that I am today. And thank you to God for all the opportunities you put in front of me and for always blessing me, always looking out for my well-being.”