Chan Ngot, a former basketball player for Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, was counting on getting his game in front of college coaches at the typical recruiting events last spring. However, like many gifted high school athletes, Ngot’s dreams of earning a college basketball scholarship were hijacked by the onset of COVID-19. After graduating from Riordan in May of 2020, Chan decided to look for a post-grad program at an athletic academy in the US where he could ride out the pandemic and benefit from an additional year of academic and physical conditioning, eventually giving himself an advantage in the hyper-competitive world of college admissions.
After looking into various post-grad programs, Chan decided on SPIRE Institute and Academy. Once there, he bonded immediately with Basketball Coach Gravelle Craig. Like many of the athletic academy’s leadership staff, Coach Craig makes it a priority to get to know more about his players than how fast they can run the 40-yard dash or how many free throws they can sink in three minutes. To truly understand and coach his players to their best level of achievement, Craig wants to know his players from the inside out—in short, what makes them tick. A relatively short conversation between the two revealed another of Chan’s passions besides basketball. The 6’7”, 190-pound shooting guard is also a gifted artist.
If you ask Chan to describe his art, he will tell you that he strives for an original type of realism. He renders his subjects so that viewers will recognize them, but he tries to use color and texture to create depth and interest. Although he occasionally works in oils, acrylics are his medium of choice for their “pop and shine”—especially when working on large surfaces.
After seeing some examples of Chan’s art, including photos of a mural he created while living in San Francisco, Coach Craig invited his young player to paint a basketball-themed mural on the SPIRE locker room wall. Although Chan confesses he was a little intimidated by the project, like so many other things he has done in his life, he just decided to give it his best shot.
He envisioned what he wanted the final product to look like before sketching out a general plan on the wall in pencil. As he began to paint, however, Chan says his vision for the piece changed.
“Everything is different when the paint goes on,” he said. “As I began to apply the acrylic, I I saw things I didn’t realize before…so I just decided to go with it.”
He estimates it took him about two months to finish the large mural.
According to Coach Craig, Chan is a good example of an athlete who represents what the athletic academy calls “the SPIRE Way.”
“When I first came to SPIRE, I started hearing the phrase ‘the SPIRE Way,’” he says. “I understood the concept. I knew that one of our values as a leadership team was to encourage students to be not only better athletes but also well-rounded human beings who thrive under pressure and aren’t afraid to try new things. Getting to know Chan really put a face on what that truly means.”
Chan, who is the only one in his immediate family who has emigrated from Africa, hopes to earn a basketball scholarship to a college where he can study political science. He speaks five languages fluently—a definite plus should he become an international attorney. No matter where his career path takes him, Chan says he will also be grateful for the mentorship he received from Coach Craig at SPIRE.