After helping the Lord Byng basketball team place 6th in the BC Provincial Championships and being selected as a 2nd-Team BC Provincial Championship All-Star in his senior season, Peter Chae is giving back to the sport that played a key role in shaping his future. The 22-year-old University of British Columbia (UBC) science grad who is going into his 1st year of medical school at UBC is leading West Point Grey Community Centre’s new Bright Future Youth Basketball program for ages 8-10.

“Basketball made me the person that I am today,” says Chae. “I gained not only skills and accolades, it allowed me to connect with so many people. My closest friends are basketball players. I also gained confidence, an ability to manage conflict and a sense of responsibility from basketball, which helped me mature as a player and person.”

Chae’s personal journey and coaching experience at Lord Byng informs his coaching style, which is focused on developing kids’ passion for the sport through skills training and teamwork.

“I wanted to provide an affordable program for kids in the area,” says Chae. “I have already coached kids at numerous basketball camps, and it brings me joy to see them improve and have fun.”

Finding his footing

Chae and his family moved from South Korea to Vancouver’s Point Grey neighbourhood in 2011. Having learned only basic English language skills beforehand, Chae and his parents looked for activities that could help him develop his English, make friends and grow both mentally and physically.

“I was shorter than the average person in my grade,” recalls Chae “And there’s a theory among members of my culture that if you do activities that involve jumping and that stimulate your knees, you will grow taller.”

Despite his enthusiasm, Chae often found himself on the bench during his first season. “I was the worst or second worst player on the team,” says Chae. “I rarely got to play in the games. I’m a very competitive person, so sitting on the bench motivated me to get better.”

Rising to the top

Chae began practising after school at the outdoor basketball courts in his neighbourhood to get ready for high school tryouts. “I remember sometimes practising when it was raining and in the wintertime. There was an internal motivation for me to get better.”

After trying out for the Lord Byng Secondary basketball team, Chae was floored when his coach told he would be a starter for his first season with the team.

“I wasn’t sure how much better I had become, but evidently my hard work paid off.”

Chae went on to become a team co-captain in Grades 11 and 12, leading Lord Byng to provincials three times and quarter-finals two times in a row.

Looking back on it now, Chae recognizes how he beat the odds with what he was able to achieve after only starting to play basketball in Grade 7 and measuring a maximum of 5’9”.

“I want people to know that you don’t get a good basketball player out of nowhere. It takes a lot of hard work, sweat and tears behind the scenes. And I want people to know that if I can do it, so can they.”

Fun fact

Chae’s given name, Taewoong, is also a Korean translation of the name of a character in the Japanese anime, Slam Dunk, who is a basketball prodigy.

“I only learned this after I started playing basketball,” confides Chae. “After I found out, it motivated me because in the show he is shown to be a basketball genius, and a naturally talented, revered and respected player. It gave me an example of what I wanted to strive towards.”

Another one of Chae’s idols is Tony Parker, who played point guard for the San Antonio Spurs. “I’ve watched his highlights the most,” admits Chae. “I think I look up to him because I feel that my game somewhat resembles his game.”

Sign up for Bright Future Youth Basketball at West Point Grey Community Centre by searching for “Bright Future Youth Basketball” here.