The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

Came for the game

Sophomore’s journey across the world ends with SHS basketball
Sophomore James Kalala dunks the ball during the game on Thursday, Feb. 1 in the Fieldhouse. The team won the game 72-65. (Darcy Leber)

After a journey that was different from anything a new student has ever experienced before, sophomore James Kalala finally arrived at SHS over the summer.

Throughout Kalala’s whole trip, one thing remained the same: basketball. As expected, when Kalala arrived at SHS, his main goal was to play for the basketball team, and it didn’t take long to get there.

“He’s been a delight,” head coach Bill Zych said. “He really works hard, he wants to learn the game and obviously he makes us a better team with his presence … (and) he seems to be a great teammate too.”

After a journey across the world, Kalala continues to adjust from the roller coaster of a trip it took to get here while still experiencing the perks of SHS.

It all began for Kalala before he was even born. His father, who was a politician in the Republic of the Congo, was murdered.

His mom and all six of his brothers and sisters were forced to flee to the country of South Africa, where he was born, and stayed there for a few years. Later on, they returned to his home country.

During his freshman year of high school, Kalala was offered a scholarship to play basketball for a small, private Christian school in Charlotte, North Carolina.

After a while, he ended up wanting to transfer because the competition was not at his level, and the exposure was not where he wanted it to be.

Kalala needed a bigger school with a higher level of competition. That’s when SHS entered the picture.

Junior Jack Turner, a player on the basketball team here, and his family had hosted foreign exchange students in the past. But they hadn’t done this in a while.

Turner’s dad, Robert, had been talking with Turner’s private trainer about how they had been missing that experience.

Turns out, his trainer knew Kalala’s trainer, and they began talking about meeting Kalala.

In July, Kalala spent a week with the Turners so they would get a chance to get to know him. After that week, they made the decision to try to have him come and live with them.

“It just so happens that Jack’s trainer and (Kalala’s) trainer knew each other, and we got talking one day and I’m like, ‘You know, we got an extra bedroom in our house, and we’d be happy to host him … ,’” Robert said, “and now we’re in the process of adopting him.”

Kalala now had a list of people to meet, starting with Zych.

They first met over the summer, and even though Kalala wasn’t allowed to participate in anything basketball related until he enrolled here at SHS in the fall, he still wanted to come and see them play.

Once fall rolled around, Kalala could finally show the type of player he really was at practice.

“I think he’s really serious about his craft and trade, and he wants to get better,” Zych said. “He knows that he has to work hard all the time. I think it’s a great aura about him that he has, and I think it has a chance to rub off on his teammates.”

Once the season started, the kind of worker Kalala was and continues to be really began to show.

Zych says that even as a sophomore he’s putting up decent numbers and averaging double doubles, when a player reaches double figures in two of the five main statistical categories which include points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

Zych says Kalala has made great strides in improving since the beginning of the season.

Even though he still has some things he needs to work on, Zych says he still has a great career ahead of him.

“I think he’s just been great for our program, and I really enjoy being around him,” Zych said. “He’s just got a really good work ethic, and hopefully he’ll continue to get better.”

And that exactly is one of Kalala’s goals for the rest of the season. He says that he just wants to keep getting better every day and keep focusing on getting his game where he wants it to be.

“I like Southport,” Kalala said. “I like the people at Southport. I mean, it has its flaws, but there’s a lot of good things I’d pull out of it at the end of the day.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Aiden Quinlin, Sports Reporter
What's up? My name is Aiden Quinlin and I’m a sports reporter this year. I’m a sophomore and this is my first year on The Journal. I’m on the football team currently, and I’m hoping to be on the baseball team this year as well. I play travel baseball, so my summer is pretty packed. Baseball is my true passion, however, and I could talk with anyone all day about it. As you could imagine, I love working out and lifting weights. I also love to travel and go on trips with friends and family. I’m in a family of four with my mom, dad and sister. One of my biggest problems right now is probably watching too much YouTube. Additionally, I love to play video games even though I’m pretty trash at any game I play. Anyway, this is my first year on The Journal, so go read my stuff!

Comments (0)

All The Journal Rewired Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *