Twenty-four-year-old Mike Chaves has the will to do anything he sets his mind to.
Chaves grew up in Victoria, B.C., as an only child raised by his 4’11 overly loving grandmother.
“Growing up an only child in a very Portuguese household as a first generation Canadian has its fair share of downsides,” Chaves laughs.
“Looking back now, growing up and having to learn mostly everything on my own and carve my own path, that wasn’t the easiest thing in the world,” Chaves explained.
“It was a really tough part of my past I don’t really advertise.”
He attended an alternative school in the ninth grade, where he felt he had no motivation, along with bad grades.
“I seemed to be the only person there who saw something for myself after graduation, in fact, I might have been one of the only ones who even made it that far.”
After realizing an alternative school wasn’t for him, Chaves decided to switch to a public high school in his junior year.
“I wanted to switch to Belmont Secondary, the school all my friends were attending at the time.”
In order to successfully transfer, Chaves had to completely turn around his grades.
“I was lead to believe the academic standards of Belmont were “above my ceiling of potential”,” Chaves pauses.
“Those words said by my unnamed teacher had always stuck with me.”
Chaves did exactly what he needed to do to get into Belmont. He focused more on school and worked hard with the pencil and paper until he was eventually admitted into Belmont.
“Turned out that I wasn’t a stupid kid after all.
“I was just chronically lazy and had a terrible level of motivation.”
“At the end of the day it my teachers cynical words that sling shotted me into being an above-average student.”
Once in Belmont, Chaves became involved with their football program.
“I played for the Belmont Bulldogs.
“I was nothing, a scrub.”
The following year, Chaves tried out for the next level of football with the Victoria Spartans, where only the top 15 players in the city make it.
“Long story short, I lost 66 pounds in 6 months, made the team and ended up being their captain.”
From there, Chaves advanced in his football career. He became a highly recruited prospect to play for Kamloops Broncos and had a chance to go to Thompson River University on a scholarship.
“I made the team in Kamloops and went snowboarding to celebrate,” Chaves remembered.
“Then I fell down the mountain and completely separated my AC joint.”
Chaves’ injury lost him his spot on the Kamloops Broncos and his scholarship, and enabled him from playing football for two years.
Although the circumstances were unfavourable, Chaves discovered a love for coaching as a result of his injury.
“I fell in love with coaching kids, building relationships, teaching them to be good players, but more importantly, good people.”
A friend, Tailor Meszaros, says anything Chaves takes on he does to the best of his abilities.
“He has the qualities of a leader, which you can see come through in his football coaching and many other aspects of his life,” Meszaros explains.
“Some people face struggles and they become crippled. Mike has used them to become stronger and a better person.”
Eventually, Chaves recovered from his injury and settled on playing for the local football team in Victoria, called the Westshore Rebels.
During his final season in junior, the head coach of Carleton University told Chaves that if he succeeded in his season, he would receive a full ride scholarship to their school.
“Before the season the head coach of the Rebels told me it was a conflict of interest to coach the 18-year-olds because they could technically be playing Rebels as rookies.
He said he would cut me if I coached,” Chaves explained.
“So I quit and coached instead.
“I gave up Carleton and never played again.”
Ernesto Mendez, a friend of Chaves since grade 11, says that one of his favourite times with him was coaching football together.
“It was a very fun and enriching time together,
“No matter what life has put in front of him he always has an ambition to succeed. It’s contagious.”
Chaves loyalty and gratitude towards his friends comes off greatly when speaking about them.
“The past few years I have built relationships with a bunch of idiots that are coincidentally now my closest friends,” Chaves jokes.
“Surrounding yourself with optimistic, charismatic, curious, ambitious, and adventurous people surely leads to a lot of good things, but it also leads to terribly hilarious situations.”
“My closest friends really are the only people that I can share stories or anything with.”
Chaves has a deep admiration for his friends that seems to be widely returned by them as well, most even claim Chaves to be their best friend.
“I often find myself asking myself “what would Mike do?”“ Meszaros declares.
“Sometimes Mike’s worried about this school or about money, or his family. But honestly whenever he’s talking about these things it’s just going in one ear and out the other.
“I see so much potential that I know none of the worries are going to matter. The opportunities for what he can do are endless and no matter what he chooses to do with his life, I am 100 per cent confident he’s going to do amazing things.”
Mendez speaks of many crazy memories he has with Chaves and how he has affected his life positively.
“Mike has been a huge part of my life, teaching me that no matter what adversity comes our way, there is always something to look forward to, but you have to fight for that.
“Mike is a fighter, and he has shown me the value of ambition, positivity and initiative in the face of great adversity.”
Brynn Irving describes Chaves as a fun-loving guy that will do anything for a laugh.
“Mike has taught me that even in the most embarrassing situations, you just have to laugh at yourself,” Irving explained.
Chaves has completed his diploma in sports management and has also received a certificate in business administration.
He is currently in his fourth year of sports and fitness leadership, and is about to take the remainder of his bachelors degree at Universitat de Autonoma Barcelona in Spain.
As well as school, Chaves is in the process of creating a small-event management business.
“I don’t believe there is just one career that I am pursuing.
“The sky is the limit and I am considering several options post graduation.”
Chaves hopes to be remembered as a motivator.
“I used to be proud of who I was. When I was 17, until around 20 years old, I carried traits that I don’t carry anymore.
“I lost something along the way and changed.
“I always thought I would revert back – but I have come to the realization that I have changed.
“I’m enjoying life where I’m at now.“