Turkey Bowl 100: Naval Academy-bound Card big on ‘brotherhood’

TOWSON – Donald Davis calls senior Kainoa “Kai” Sasaki a coach’s dream.

His teachers at Calvert Hall College High School are equally impressed by his work ethic, humility and faith.

The Cardinals will rely heavily on Sasaki and his leadership in the 100th Turkey Bowl. Promoted from the junior varsity as a sophomore, he has been around for most of their five-game win streak over Loyola Blakefield, which he hopes to extend as a starting slot receiver and punt returner.

“It’s fun,” Sasaki said of the game. “You look to your left and right, you’re seeing thousands of people. The fact that you have alumni and young kids, it shows that you’re not only playing for yourself or your team, you’re playing for those after you and before you. There’s a bigger picture.”

Sasaki, who attended Immaculate Conception School, almost wound up on the other side.

His brother Ethan attended Loyola Blakefield, but Sasaki wanted to attend Calvert Hall from the first day he visited the school.

“It really made me feel like part of a family, the brotherhood here,” he said.

A member of the National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society, he holds a 3.95 grade point average. He will attend the U.S. Naval Academy, and play lacrosse there.

“If you look at the core values of any of our service academies and the types of young people they look for, he’s a guy who checks those boxes,” said Davis, the Cardinals’ coach since 2007. “He has tremendous character. He has tremendous work ethic.

“The things that should be important to him are important – his faith, his family, the people around him. Those are things that should be important for anyone representing our country. And he has them.”

Ken Goedeke, who has taught Sasaki religion during his sophomore and senior years, says he embodies three pillars integral to the Calvert Hall mission: “Men of Intellect, Men of Faith and Men of Integrity.”

“He humbly lives his faith and influences others to look beyond themselves,” Goedeke said.

What distinguishes Sasaki, Goedeke said, is that he recognizes his shortcomings as well as his gifts and talents. He makes no excuses, only sincere effort in becoming the best student and person he can be.

Sasaki is quick to acknowledge the support he has found, both at school and home.

“My parents and teachers – it’s not like you’re on your own,” he said. “That’s what makes this school so special. These teachers will come after you. They want to help you. It’s not a job for them. It’s something that they love.”

Davis has seen many top-tier athletes come through the program. Sasaki, who has become more vocal and a mentor, is at the top of that list.

“He’s a coach’s dream,” Davis said. “He’s tough, he’s smart and he’s strong.Kai has worked his body into peak physical shape. He is maximizing his potential.”

Calvert Hall had an 8-3 regular season, with two of its losses coming against Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champion Mount St. Joseph High School.

Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich is a freelance writer for the Catholic Review. A 1990 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, he is a contributor to the Associated Press, ESPN, the Baltimore Sun, PressBox and Sports Xchange, among other media outlets nationwide.

Todd is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box”; “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles”; and the author of “Manchester United (Europe’s Best Soccer Clubs),” “Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees,” and “Michigan State Spartans (Inside College Football).”