Video Spotlight - Calvin Westbrook

LANGLEY, British Columbia - When your dad is from Australia, your mom is from Vancouver Island and you grow up in Courtenay, B.C. you don’t really have much of a choice.

You’re going to be laid back. You’re going to be causal. You’re going to wear tie-dye shirts and headbands.

And there’s a good chance, you’re going to grow up saying stuff like “G’day mate” and “Don’t worry. Be happy” and “It’s all good.”

Such is the life of Trinity Western basketball guard Calvin Westbrook.

“Overall I’m a happy guy,” Westbrook said. “It’s a happy life right. I just don’t really harbour negative feelings whether it be for people or life in general.”

Watch the 6-foot-5, 210-pound graduate of Courtenay’s G.P. Vanier on the court and his non-provocative attitude is apparent. He doesn’t get upset. He rarely gets rattled. And he’s the epitome of levelheadedness.

“I’m not a very confrontational person I guess,” Westbrook said. “I like to think I’m a very forgiving person. It happens a lot on the basketball court. We’re a really aggressive team, even in practice, and I’ll get knocked in the face and it doesn’t even faze me.”

But while his ever-present smile and excitable attitude is a great quality off the court, up until recently, his Birkenstocks approach on the court wasn’t helping his game. If anything, it was hindering it.

After graduating from G.P. Vanier in 2006 and being named the BC High School Male Athlete of the Year, Westbrook attended Cal State Stanislaus – a school just two hours drive east of San Francisco – where he played his first two years of post-secondary basketball.

Following the 2007-08 season, Westbook decided to move back to Canada and join the Spartans. And, after sitting out the obligatory year after transferring, he came into the 2009-10 year with high expectations for both himself and the team.  

But neither came to fruition.

Despite averaging more than 32 minutes per game, Westbrook only scored 11.9 points per outing and was shooting only 42.2 per cent. And the Spartans missed the playoffs.

Something wasn’t quite right.

And after the men’s basketball summer missions trip to South Africa, Westbrook need a break.

“I felt I was a little burnt out,” Westbrook said. “Not because I had been playing too much basketball but because I had really high expectations individually and as a team and both were disappointing. I needed a mental break.”

Westbrook went back to Courtenay and just chilled, Island style.

While there, the many local basketball-loving kids who looked up to him inspired him to prove himself beyond just his high school hoops accolades.

He wanted to give the kids an accomplishment to aspire to that was greater than his G.P. Vanier feats. And for himself, his hometown friends reminded him that his high school dream of one day playing basketball professionally wasn’t going to happen unless his work ethic changed.

“After that time off I came back and I knew I needed get in shape and get in the weight room and get on the floor working on my shot. I started to get that desire to get better that I had had in high school and the first couple years of university.”

But upon returning to TWU, on the court, not a lot changed. Through the first four games he was averaging 10.0 points per game and shooting 42.4 per cent.

“I kind of thought maybe I don’t deserve the starting role,” Westbrook said.

But then, in early November, before TWU’s series with Thompson Rivers, Spartans coach Scott Allen sat Westbrook down.

“Coach had a meeting with me and he said, ‘I think you’re putting a ceiling on yourself. And you’re the only person that can get rid of that ceiling. We want you to be a key contributor. You’re going to be a starter and it’s your job to push yourself,’” Westbrook said. “And I had some success that weekend (he had 45 points in two games) and I think that carried my confidence to make me believe I will be a key contributor for this team.”

Since that meeting, Westbrook has averaged 16.0 points per game, is hitting 56.2 per cent of his field goal attempts and is making 51.1 per cent of his 3-point attempts.

Westbrook loves hiking. He loves the outdoors and although he won’t admit he’s a hippie, he’s not that far from it.

Before this year, he took things as they came. If he wasn’t a starter, hey c’est la vie.

But now, he’s starting to get the whole package together.

His tie-dye shirts will still make their appearances, he’ll still wear his headbands occasionally and he’s not going to pick any fights. But now, on the court, he’s finally got a sense of belonging.

He’s the same Austral-Island guy he was before. It’s just now he has a confident swagger in his shot. And he doesn’t have that ceiling above him.

 

Last Updated: 2011-02-24
Author: Mark Janzen