Isaac Silva is rich in patience.
He doesn’t care for video games, but reads book after book, especially about finance.
He doesn’t have incentives of cash or even a plate lunch when he gets straight A’s, which he has done since sixth grade. The Saint Louis senior just keeps churning and burning on the gridiron, on the hardwood and, especially, in the classroom. But the books rule.
“Right now, I’m reading business books because that’s what I want to go into. I’m trying to learn the stock market, the ins and outs,” Silva said. “Warren Buffett has multiple sources of income, not only focused on growing one business, but multiple businesses. In another book, I read, manifest your own wave. You don’t have to conform to society. Be you.”
Silva considers himself borderline “anti-social,” but for constructive reasons.
“I just stay at home, read, learn, focus on what I need to do. I go out with the boys once in awhile, but you’re on your own path, so you might as well give your all,” he said.
Silva started on the Crusaders football squad that won its fourth consecutive Open Division state championship in November. With new basketball coach Dan Hale, he is a starting guard on a Saint Louis team that has risen to No. 7 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. The numbers are steady for Silva, who is 5 feet, 10 inches and 161 pounds.
>> 57 receptions (third most on the team), 602 yards (fourth), one TD.
>> 10 points per game in basketball.
With a 4.3 cumulative grade-point average (4.5 this year), Silva’s dreams are materializing.
“From a young age, my parents (Jodi and Kalani) always stressed for me to get a quality education. My dad, he was really hard on me about it. If I get a B, I can’t play sports. That’s always been the motivating factor for me,” Silva said.
The reward for that 4.0-plus report card?
“He doesn’t give me anything. He said, ‘It’s expected.’ My mom says, ‘Congratulations.’ We celebrated by going to practice.”
Silva’s classes include AP Psychology, AP U.S. Government, AP English. Junior year, it was AP Calculus, AP English and AP Biology. There was AP Chemistry during sophomore year. Setting long-term goals, he believes, makes a big difference for many young student-athletes entering high school.
“Just be straight up. Ask him, what do you want to do when you grow up? Maybe he wants to be an NBA basketball player or businessman. Then you tell him, these are the steps you have to take. Then you be strict about it. You don’t take failure as an excuse or exception. You just push him until he accomplishes his goals,” Silva said. “Ever since I got that perfect report card in sixth grade, that’s why my dad never let me fall off.”
Honing his craft
Hale, in his first season at Saint Louis, appreciates Silva’s work ethic.
“Isaac is an old-school player. Tough and can hit the mid-range. It’s a lost art with everyone wanting to shoot 3s all the time. His defense is tough and he can really move his feet,” Hale said. “When he says something, the other guys listen.”
A football coach from Yale made a visit to the campus last summer and got a good look at Silva’s reps on the practice field.
“That’s when I felt like, OK, I truly believe in myself,” Silva said. “(Saint Louis quarterback) Jayden (de Laura) threw balls to me. That’s my guy.”
The staff at Saint Louis can’t always predict which of its athletes will emerge.
“When he came up (to varsity), he was one of many,” Saint Louis offensive coordinator Ron Lee recalled. “I don’t even know if he started on the JV. He came up and his football savvy fit the offense. Always asking questions. I could tell he would have a good understanding of the offense because he was always paying attention. He wasn’t the fastest, but had good hands and he could catch. A hard worker.”
A promising junior season was cut short by a foot injury. He returned for the latter part of the season as Saint Louis made its run for the 2018 state crown, but it wasn’t until ’19 that he earned a key role.
“When he was hurt, he was at every practice, in the meetings. He stayed into it, really committed,” Lee said. “That’s the thing I noticed the most. That’s a rare trait, you know, to be able to give it 100% toward excellence. He became one of our most consistent receivers with clutch catches. He might have dropped one or two balls all season long. I’m really proud of that guy. Never complains, gets hurt, comes back senior year and wins a starting spot. A lot of energy on the practice field and always goes hard. Good leadership. We’re definitely going to miss Isaac.”
Koali Nishigaya is one of Silva’s closest friends.
“Isaac is the type of person who will ride for you. Ride or die type of guy,” Nishigaya said. “We just crack a lot of jokes 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.”
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.”
Ivy League goals
The applications were sent in to Yale and Harvard. Some smaller schools in the Northwest are also interested: Lewis and Clark, Willamette, Pacific Lutheran and Pacific.
“Those schools said with my grades, I can probably get a full financial aid package,” Silva said. “But I want to go to an Ivy League school.”
Now, Silva waits. The Crusaders are on a quest to reach the state basketball tournament.
“We had one practice before our first ILH game. Our teammates really stepped up before we came back (from football),” Silva said. “It’s been a tough past three years for me, but this year, we’re more of a team. We’re committed to playing team basketball.”
Silva’s impact is as low-key and effective as perhaps anyone in the student body.
“I’m going to just miss the way Isaac carries himself,” Nishigaya said. “He’s very confident in his abilities and it oftentimes gets everyone else going around him.”
Saint Louis football, basketball Senior, 5 feet 10, 161 pounds
Q&A / Favorites
>> Athlete: Russell Westbrook “I love how he plays on the court, his intensity, and I try to apply that to me.”
>> 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.”
>> 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.”
>> 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.”
>> Music artist: A Boogie wit da Hoodie
>> GPA: 4.3 “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 like science, to be honest, but it was just the teacher.”
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser