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Albertsons Big Deal of the Week: Caleb Fong (Melba)
When not making plays on the court, Melba's senior point guard is helping athletes with special needs
Published: 2/26/2020 10:36:00 AM




Name: Caleb Fong
Melba High School
Point Guard

How did you first get interested in basketball?
I started playing basketball when my dad gave me my first ball at age 3.  I took that ball with me wherever I went. I started playing with the Nampa Rec Center when I was 5. I was a part of the Shooting Stars team. From that point on, I fell in love with the game and joined as many teams as I could. I advanced from Rec ball to AAU, club ball with UpTempo and then finally to Idaho Select. I am the only boy in my family of five kids and my dad shares the same love for basketball. We played whenever and wherever we could. Summers were spent in the driveway shooting and winters were spent in the gym. 

If you play other sports, which is your favorite and why?
I played football and soccer when I was younger. I stopped playing football when I was in seventh grade. I was very small for my age and I didn’t want to get hurt and jeopardize my basketball season (at that time I was about 4-foot-5). I enjoyed being challenged by football, being the smallest and the quickest. Having the opposing team underestimate my ability to tackle due to my size and not take into consideration that if I couldn’t take you down at the waist, I was going to take you down at your feet.

Basketball has always been my favorite because size doesn’t really matter on the court. I could still do what I wanted when I wanted on the court. It didn’t matter to me if you were really tall, I would wait for you to jump and then shoot over you when you landed, if you had the ball I would just steal it from you. That's why it was so fun for me. I could do it all, even though it took me awhile to grow taller and be seen as a threat. I think that is my best weapon. I have great ball handling skills, I’m quick and agile and didn’t have to worry about a huge growth spurt messing up my shot. Handling a basketball feels so natural to me that it feels like just another extension to my arm. 

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from high school sports?
How to be a successful leader. To be a good leader, you have to be a team player. You have to be able to know how to lead, but also to know how to follow and encourage your team from behind. To be the driving force behind the player that is struggling. To be the person who can see the open shot and take it, but also recognize that the other players on the team may be the ones to take the shot and be fine with no points on the board. Because it's a team win, not a single person's win. Those are the skills that I will take with me into my adult life and can help me be successful in my career. Hearing the roar of the crowd, feeling the tension in the gym during the free throw shot to tie the game, the buzzer beater for the win will never compare to the feeling I get as the leader of my team when I have 0 points on the board.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My mother told me, “I don’t expect perfection, I expect progress. Once you reach perfection you can’t go any higher, progress is a never ending upward motion that only ends when you stop working.” My mother has been very supportive of me my whole life. She will be the first to admit that she doesn’t understand all the details of the game but she is always at every game watching my progression. She is the one who will take me aside in the game to give me advice that may not be strategically pertinent to the game but somehow always opens my mind to see things in a different way and helps me play to my potential. 

What has been your favorite high school memory so far?
Last year, we had 1 senior on our team. He wasn’t the best player,he never got to play, but he showed up for every practice and every game and was our biggest supporter. During senior night, I was privileged to start the game with him. We totally got slaughtered at that game but whenever I looked over at him, he was smiling and playing his heart out. Whenever he got the ball and successfully made it down the court we all celebrated with him. That night, I didn’t care about the game. I didn’t care about the win, I cared about my good friend, who had been such a great support to me when I transfered over to Melba my 9th grade year. I cared that he was smiling, laughing, and playing alongside him in his final senior game was the best memory I could have.

What coaches or teachers have made the biggest impact on your athletic career?
Coach Trappett hands down has been the most amazing high school coach. Not only has he helped me when I am struggling on the court, but off the court as well. He takes a personal interest in all his players and works hard to bring out the best in all of us. His faith in me and my ability is humbling. To have someone tell me at the beginning of each game that he trusts me to make the right decision for the team in order to win is awesome. 

Clint Hordeman of Idaho Select recruited me my 10th-grade year and introduced me to the world of elite club basketball. Traveling with Idaho Select these past few years have helped me grow into a more responsible person. On the court and off the court. It gave me an opportunity to play at a very high level during the off season of high school basketball and put me up against opponents that are elite and different from those of high school basketball players. These players played all year round and it showed! Clint, like Coach Trappett, trusted in me, believed in me, even when I didn’t and set the bar high and helped me achieve my goals each time. He pushed me beyond my limits and made my confidence in myself increase. He echoed the leadership skills taught to me by my high school coach and gave me the same trust that coach trappett gave me at every game. 

Which teammates have you really connected with during high school? Why do you enjoy competing with them? 
This year has been amazing for our team. We all have a great connection to each other. Last year we were still trying to learn to trust one another and to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses and this year I feel like we all have the same goal. I don't feel as if I am constantly battling for control on the court. We really mesh well together on and off the court. If I have to pick a teammate that I have really connected with over the past four years of basketball I would  say it was Easton Bunnell. We were on JV together my freshman year. He took care of me on the court. I was short, I was small and Easton was taller, stronger and stuck up for me when I was pushed around. He and I always had a mental connection. I would be bringing the ball up the court and he would know that I needed him in a specific position and he was always there to put the ball in. He always comes to practice and games and gives 110% and because of that it makes me feel better.

Is there anyone in your family who have helped you get to where you are today?
My family has always been my biggest supporters. My parents make sure that at least one of them are at all of my games. They have driven me to the gym and school numerous times to shoot and play basketball whenever I wanted to. My sisters make signs for me at the games, cheer at my games and are the first to come and hug me when the game is done. I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn’t have the support of my family.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
Last year, my mom saw a post on Facebook about the Special Olympics needing referees for their basketball games. I signed up and had the greatest experience of my life. I was able to help them play, watch them succeed, smile and have a good time. I didn't expect to have such a good time. I met a boy named DJ who always had a smile on his face and was a team player and we became good friends during my time there. Sometimes people don't realize that these kids also have goals in their lives and their disabilities may hold them back, but there are things we can do to help them achieve their goals. After spending time with the kids at the Special Olympics, I decided make my senior project a special needs basketball camp where kids can come and learn new skills, play basketball and have a good time. 

Another cool thing that most people don’t know about me is I and a couple of kids performed a cheer routine. The cheerleaders at our school have always been fully supportive to us and we wanted to show our appreciation. In doing this, we actually went to a cheer gym and came up with a routine so we can perform it at the showcase where they were competing. It was so much fun and believe it or not, going all out for two minutes is pretty difficult to do. 

What about this season are you looking forward to the most?
Winning it all. That is our ultimate goal as a team. For me personally, I would love to continue to play basketball in college. To ultimately become a college basketball coach or recruiter. But, I mostly just want to progress. To end my high school year feeling like I did everything I could to succeed, that I played my heart and soul out on the court with no regrets.

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