May 2, 2013

Calcaterra catches dream

Kevin McCarthy

The Nick Calcaterra story is a multi-faceted one, full of a mixture of trials and achievements despite his youth with the foremost takeaway for those treading in his footsteps being: don't ever give up.

photo of Nick Calcaterra

After an all-around production this season featuring 16.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.2 assists per outing, the 6-foot-2 Marin Catholic High and Lakeshow Pump N Run prospect has garnered a welcome from a local university.

Calcaterra is headed to Coach Paul Trevor's program at San Francisco State University (SFSU), one that is losing forwards Decensae White, Winston Demmin and James Albright plus guard Calvin Otiono -- that's four of SFSU's top five scorers -- and coming off a solid 16-12 overall. 13-9 record in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).

That's the payoff for all the hard work and effort put in by the young man -- “from third through eighth grade, we went twice a week to the East Bay [to practice with the MVP Flight Program]. Then we moved on to the Lakeshow AAU program once I entered high school.”

But the road to becoming a Gator wasn't without roadblocks. Someone with lesser resolve might well have abandoned the dream.

Calcaterra stood all of 5-foot-3 as a freshman. Four inches taller in his sophomore year, a broken wrist curtailed any chance of getting on the court. So his aspiration of participating in college basketball -- “my dream since third grade” -- was looking null and void halfway through his high school experience.

Even as a junior, he didn't play all that much.

But he kept sprouting upward until 6-foot-2 was reached and, just as importantly, he remained wedded to working on his game.

Then opportunity met readiness in 2012-13.

About his offer from San Francisco State, Calcaterra offered, “It's an honor and I feel blessed. I get to play NCAA basketball and stay close to home.”

San Francisco State is part of the CCAA, meaning the Gators will match up with Cal State East Bay, Sonoma State, Chico State, Humboldt State and Cal State Stanislaus next season so Calcaterra will be making plenty of northern California appearances for his family to catch.

What will he be bringing to his new address?

“My ability to attack the basket and my leadership,” adorning the latter with “I take huge pride in that.”

It's a role he naturally gravitated to yet he still doesn't turn 18 until after college begins.

“As a little kid, I wanted to be a leader on the court and communicate as much as possible, and I've kept doing that through my high school years.” In fact, Calcaterra acted as team captain and team chaplain this season at Marin Catholic.

For his best basketball moment, he took a longer view. “It was winning the Marin County Athletic League championship this year. Although we had many doubters, as captain, I had faith and confidence in our squad that we could win the championship. My fellow seniors, and some of the underclassmen, came through and we were able to bring the championship banner back to Marin Catholic after an eight-year drought.”

He's looking to major in business and hospitality but also getting in some coaching “would be great.”

“I want to thank my parents, MC's Coach Saia, all my AAU coaches, trainers, teammates and friends for helping me get to the next level,” Calcaterra offered. He cites his father as his biggest basketball influence -- “my dad was the one getting me to the gym and helping me with what I needed to do to play in college.”

His advice to those coming up: “It's definitely not going to be easy. My suggestion is get in the gym early, leave the gym late, and be motivated to be the best person and player you can be.”