By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Kurt Johnson & Dave Argyle (DBA Photography)
With 4.5 seconds remaining in the 5A state semifinal game, down two points and 94 feet from a tie or a win, there was no question whose number Davis High boys basketball coach Chad Sims would call – No. 10.
Jesse Wade got the ball, split a double team and dribbled to an open space before rising to release a shot from about 30 feet out. That shot bounced off the rim, but there was no one inside the Dee Events Center that night who did not think it was going in. It’s who Jesse Wade is.
A few months earlier, during the 5A girls soccer state title match, Davis was in position to knock off previously unbeaten Lone Peak for its first state championship in that sport since 1995. Leading 1-0 in the 55th minute, with a chance to seize total control of the match, the Darts were awarded a penalty kick. Head coach Souli Phongsavath did not look to his seniors nor to one his dynamic, ultra-talented juniors, but instead it was freshman Olivia Wade who got the call, and she delivered.
There’s something about these Wade kids. Not only do they believe in themselves, but others around them come to believe in them as well, and they respond to the great expectations.
When the Wade family does something, it goes all in. That drive has brought the oldest two of Eric and Amanda Wade’s five children amazing athletic success at a very young age.
Jesse won every major basketball player of the year award this year as a senior. Olivia, a freshman who has not even begun attending classes at the high school yet, is already an all-state player, and more significantly, she is part of the active player pool with the Under-17 women’s United States National Team.
Sports is a big part of life for every member of the Wade family. Jesse and Olivia come from strong athletic stock, beginning with their parents.
“They (Eric and Amanda) both did the rounds,” Jesse said in describing his parents’ athletic roots. “My dad was a three-sport athlete in high school, an all-state three-sport athlete. My mom played basketball. They both played college basketball – my mom played at Colorado Northwestern, my dad played at Ricks. I think it just kinds of runs in the family.”
Sims describes Jesse and Olivia Wade as athletes who would have excelled at whatever sport each finally settled into. Both found a home in a specific sport early and they are making the most of those decisions.
Jesse started trying all kinds of sports, but by the time he was on campus for his sophomore year at Davis, he had narrowed it down to basketball.
“I played basketball, soccer, I played them all, and football,” Jesse said. “Growing up, I played every sport, throughout elementary and junior high, I played football and basketball. I played quarterback. You just have to pick a sport if you want to get really good at it usually.
“My schedule was so crammed. I was going to varsity camp for the football team my sophomore year and then I had to leave for a basketball tournament, and that just kind of sent me off, and I decided I’m just going to go to basketball for the rest of my life.”
Olivia’s experience was pretty much the same, all except for the basketball part. Jesse’s first love did not carry the same attraction for his younger sister.
“I played a little bit of basketball and I always played soccer,” Olivia said. “I started playing soccer when I was five, and then my parents wanted to put me in other sports to see what I liked, so I played basketball and I played softball.
“Once I grew up, I didn’t really like basketball anymore and I was kind of leaning towards soccer and softball, but finally I had to choose between both of them because my schedules were just getting crazy and I guess I just liked soccer more.”
Evidence suggests the she made the correct choice. Olivia also runs track, and Jesse describes her as a natural for that because she’s “as fast as can be.”
Three More Wades
Judging from what it has seen so far, the city of Kaysville must be waiting with excitement to see which sports the remaining Wade children will select. In addition to Jesse and Olivia, there are three other Wades – Josh (13 years old), Ellis (11) and Kayla (8).
“So, there’s me and then Olivia, and Josh is in seventh grade,” Jesse said. “He’s a stud. He wrestles and plays basketball.” “And football,” Olivia added.
“Ellie’s 11,” Olivia said. “She’s in fifth grade and she plays basketball, just like Jess. Then Kayla, the youngest, she’s a soccer player.”
So, who is the best athlete in the Wade family?
“She’s (Olivia) the best athlete, but I win everything in the family,” Jesse said.
“That’s just because he’s the strongest, basically,” Olivia responded.
“Like in soccer games, if we split our family in half, we would always win because I would just ‘D’ Olivia up so she could never get anything,” Jesse said. “But I would say that for a girl and boy aspect, she’s a lot more athletic for being a girl than I am being a guy.”
Of course, when they stopped to consider where the younger siblings fit into the question, the answer changed a little bit.
“Maybe Josh (will be the best),” Jesse said. “They’re all good. It will be fun to see 20 years from now what happens there.”
“I think all of them. They’re all great little athletes,” Olivia said. “I’m excited to see what (sports) they lean towards more. That will be kind of cool.”
Whatever direction they go, it’s pretty clear that the days of shuttling kids from one sports venue to another will not end any time soon for Eric and Amanda Wade.
“She (Olivia) is gone probably for about four days at a time to anywhere in the country,” Jesse said. “(For me) Basketball season is different. During the summer I was pretty much gone the whole summer, traveling all over the country, but obviously that dies down once high school season starts. Our parents, bless their hearts, they’ve done their fair share of traveling.”
“They’ve taken us everywhere,” Olivia said.
Back at the Wade Home
It’s not all sports in the Wade household, but no matter the activity in which they are engaged, some level of competition will often creep in.
“We’re really tight,” Olivia said. “Our whole family’s best friends.”
“We’re just knuckleheads just like everyone else,” Jesse said. “I still tease everyone else in the family and I just have to show them who’s still in charge for another few weeks before I leave. It’s good. We joke around. We go out, roast marshmallows in the fire pit…We’ll go play basketball or we’ll go play soccer. We’ll make music videos.”
“Our whole family did a Harlem Shake video,” Olivia said. “Our parents even did that.”
Their mother says the “competition” even carries over to the times when the family, which is greatly shaped by its faith and its involvement in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is reading scriptures together.
“It’s so competitive,” Amanda said. “We had a thing when we’re reading scriptures, they want to read the last verse. We usually read two or one per person, and they’ve already counted down…”
“We’ll count ahead,” Olivia added, “so if there’s 20 verses, I’ll count out how many and what number, so if Jesse reads first, I’ll know he won’t read the last verse. So I’ll count out.”
“And then whoever reads last, everyone will butt in,” Amanda said. (and Olivia added, “and read the last verse.”). The person’s crying because they didn’t get to read the last verse.”
Jesse is quick to add that the family competition is all in fun.
“We have a good time,” Jesse said. “Of course we fight every once in a while, usually over sports, just because of how competitive we all are.”
He can’t help himself when it comes to reminding Olivia, that while she is the best soccer player in the family, he holds the Wade record for most goals scored in a game.
“Jesse always teases me about he scored the most goals in a game,” Olivia said. “To this day, it still bugs me so much. He scored 11 goals in a rec game. I’ll give him that. He did score the most goals.”
“She can say she’s the better soccer player, but I hold the family record for most goals in a game,” Jesse said. “(I scored the 11 goals) when I was like nine or 10 years old. That’s my soccer career right there – 11 goals in a rec game, that’s as far as it goes.”
So if the two swapped, who would be better at the other sibling’s sport?
“I’d be better at soccer,” Jesse said. To which Olivia responded, “Oh no, you would not, I’d be way better at basketball.”
“She’s a horrible shooter,” Jesse said. “I can kick it. My legs are strong. I promise I would be better. Soccer runs in my veins, secretly.”
“He could not dribble the soccer ball,” Olivia said. “I’d be the better basketball player. Basketball is basically in my DNA.”
Through it all, Olivia and Jesse see family as their greatest support system. The Wades all see each other for who they are, and for the great people they can become.
“They’re so supportive,” Olivia said. “They come to every single one of our games. Even if you have a hard game, and you come home, everybody puts their arms around you and tells you it’s all right. They’re all just so supportive and I think that’s a really big factor in how successful we are.”
“I just think it’s how much we care about and love each other, and what I know that Olivia or Josh or Ellie (or Kayla) could become with hard work,” Jesse said. “I kind of get on their case sometimes if they’re not doing anything or just wasting time. That’s how it is with everyone in our family.
“We all see the potential that everyone could have. I bring Josh with me to the gym. How competitive we are at our house can sometimes be a bad thing, but when we get in a game it’s so different…”
Making of a Superstar
Jesse Wade didn’t arrive at Davis High as a kid who jumped out at you as a future Mr. Basketball, but it didn’t take long before Jay Welk, his head coach during his sophomore and junior seasons, noticed there was something very special in him.
“He’d come to our camps and he was always a tough little kid,” Welk said. “He was kind of like Josh (his little brother) is now. Josh is a tough kid, but small. He’d come in and you’d watch him and he looked small.”
“It’s not like he jumped out at us. The first time I noticed him, we had camp at Utah Valley (University) and it was a sophomore tournament. He was in these games and the guys coaching them, a lot of them were college kids. It got to the point where he’d take a shot and the ball would barely be out of his hands and these guys are holding their hands up when it hadn’t even got to the rim yet.
“I really had a feeling then he could be a starter for us as a sophomore. I saw him in junior high and he was scoring big in junior high, but you have a tendency to think, ‘Well, it’s junior high competition.’ He came up with us and we started him as a sophomore and he was our leading scorer as a sophomore. What you saw this year, he was capable of every year.”
Phongsavath knew Olivia Wade long before she became eligible this past season, as a ninth grader, to play high school soccer. He says a few ninth graders make the team, but maybe one or two see the pitch as varsity players during their freshman season.
“They come to practice a little bit late because their school gets out later, so it’s a transition kind of fitting in, and especially with a veteran group,” Phongsavath said. “The girls have been together two or three years, and they’re coming in. Olivia started right away and sometimes kids are intimidated by that. On this team we have here, a very talented group, a lot of times they take a back seat to that talent.
“Right away, the coaching staff and I talked to Olivia and told her, ‘We don’t want you to take a back seat. I want you to play exactly as you do on your club team.’ She dominates her club team. She is one of the major reasons they have such great success and they’re such a great team. ‘So, we want you to run this team exactly as you run your club team, not take a back seat.’ She stepped right in and filled in great.”
Special Senior Season
It’s been a senior year filled with memorable accomplishments for Jesse Wade. At a school that celebrated its 100th anniversary just a year ago, he set six all-time school records to close out a brilliant career, including total points scored (1,367), 3-point field goals (207), assists (209), steals (166), most points scored in a single game (46) and most 3-point makes in a single season (101 his senior year).
His 101 threee-point field goals made is also a new Class 5A state record. Jesse was the leading scorer in the state at 26.83 points per game and was named Mr. Basketball by The Deseret News as well as The Salt Lake Tribune’s All-Tribune MVP, and MaxPreps honored him with All-American recognition.
The City of Kaysville celebrated the remarkable performances of the 6-foot-1 point guard by giving Jesse the “key to the city” and by proclaiming April 10 Jesse Wade Day. So what does Jesse see as his greatest sports accomplishment so far?
“I would have to go with being named Mr. Basketball just because ever since I knew what that award was, when I first heard about it, I wanted to win it,” Jesse said. “That’s been my goal, so to work hard and be recognized for that, I’m really blessed and really grateful for that. Hard work really does pay off.”
Sims took over as head coach of Davis High basketball this year, after Welk retired and took an administrative position with the school district. Though he was new to coaching Jesse, he was very familiar with his game, having coached previously at Northridge and faced Davis from the opposing bench.
“The one thing that strikes you right off the bat is how hard he plays, how hard he works and I think if you asked anybody, even some of his best friends, some of our players, they’ll tell you the same thing,” Sims said. “Jesse is good and he gets what he gets because of how hard he plays. He knows that and he wants to be the best of the best. He’s not just competing against people here, he wants to be the best anywhere.”
To the average fan, the first thing that jumps out when watching Jesse play is his uncanny ability to hit shots, particularly from deep. He acknowledges that his is a shooter, but says that he finds satisfaction in everything about his game.
“I can shoot the ball, and this year with the team, I had to score points, but there’s games where I can get a bunch of assists, bunch of rebounds, just whatever I really need to do,” Jesse said. “People think I’m a little undersized, but that doesn’t matter at all to me. Playmaking, I can drive and take my defender off the dribble, find someone open, finish at the basket, hit a pull-up three, just make plays.”
Jesse’s high school career officially ended after he dropped 39 at an all-star game. Sims was in the stands that night and he was watching the way people reacted to Jesse’s play on the floor.
“I was sitting by some coaches and they were like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this. I’ve never seen this before.'” Sims said. “I wasn’t surprised. I even told the coaches, if this is close to the end, Jesse will take over. He’ll just shoot it and he’ll make them. I just know what kind of player he is. He’s definitely a shooter, but he’s extremely confident, not cocky, but extremely confident in his ability and a very competitive person and just wants to be the best at everything he does.”
2015 State Tournament
Late in the Darts’ quarterfinal win at the state tournament, Jesse went down hard on a drive to the basket, clearly injuring the wrist on his shooting hand. Even with what turned out to be a compressed fracture, there was never a doubt in Jesse’s mind that he would play in the semifinal against Brighton, two nights later.
“It was pretty painful and on my follow-through it kind of hurt,” Jesse said. “I went through lots of treatment and had it taped for the semifinal game, but halfway through the first quarter, it was just not working, so I just ripped it off, and thought, ‘I’ll rest Saturday night.'”
Sims said that there never was a discussion between player and coach about missed playing time due to the injury.
“We didn’t talk much about it,” Sims said. “I think me and him had a pretty unique relationship where he could tell me and I knew it was bothersome, but I knew there was no question that he was not going to play in my mind or his. It’s pretty incredible what he was able to do with that. He was so focused, the adrenaline gets going and you don’t even feel it.”
As that game seemed to be getting away from Davis right from the outset, with Brighton playing as well as it had played all season, Jesse single-handedly kept his team in the game. His first quarter was the kind of stuff of which legends are made as he hit his first four threes. He had 20 of his team’s 27 first-half points, including six total 3-pointers.
After intermission, he was a little more human on the deep ball, but Jesse started taking the ball hard to the basket as Davis overcame a 14-point deficit before losing at the end 64-62. Jesse scored on a baseline pull-up to give the Darts the lead at 60-59 with 1:32 left in the contest.
After a Bengal 3-pointer turned the advantage back to Brighton, Jesse scored on a tough left-handed lay-up with 27 seconds left to level the score once again.
“(The second half was) more of a different mindset,” Jesse said. “I shot really good at the beginning of the game, but midway through the second quarter, I didn’t hit some shots that I usually can hit, so I was just ‘Okay, I’ve got to get to the basket now.’ The atmosphere of the game, it was just so tight, I just had to get to the basket and I’ll either get a foul or I’ll get a bucket.”
After a pair of free throws gave the Bengals the two-point advantage with 4.5 seconds remaining, the stage was set for Jesse Wade heroics. Everyone in the arena could feel a sense of anticipation as the teams came out of the timeout.
“We wanted to get him (Jesse) heading towards the basket,” Sims said. “We had plenty of time to get a good shot. Coach Gardner called a timeout, so I mixed it up a little bit to keep their guys off balance, but get Jesse the ball and see what happens. If he could get the shot up, I think the chances were pretty good it was going in.”
“I was 110 percent sure it was going in, and it just didn’t go in,” Jesse said. “That’s just life. With four seconds left, there’s not much you can think. I was double-teamed and with four seconds left from full court, I wasn’t thinking I need to get somewhere, it was just dribble and throw up a shot, and I thought it was going to go in, but it was just a little to the left.”
A Soccer Title
If you’ve seen Olivia Wade on the soccer field, you’d never guess you were watching a freshman. She credits her poise on the pitch to the quality she feels is the best part of her game.
“Probably my determination,” Olivia said. “I never get really down in a game. Even if we’re down, I can still maintain my same ability throughout the game. I never panic. Just being determined to win.”
“She just makes things happen,” Jesse added. “She scores when she needs to, as a midfielder, she passes, she scores. The thing about Olivia is I’ve gotten to the point now where I’m scared of her a little bit. I don’t want to cross paths with her.”
Coach Phongsavath hesitates to characterize Olivia as such because of the way it is often perceived by soccer players, but he calls her an athletic freak.
“Sometimes it’s not good for soccer players, so that means that they’re athletic and they don’t have a lot of skill necessarily,” Phongsavath said. “The kids who play other sports and come in, and it sometimes tends to be that they’re not skilled. She happens to be a rare combination of both. Athletically, I have yet to coach a player as fast as she is. Endurance wise, she stepped right in and finished top two on the beep test (a progressive aerobic cardiovascular endurance test).
“You can see her brother is also very talented athletically, that whole family is. She can be anywhere and everywhere. You can put her in any position and she would do really well there. She has the skill to back it up. She is just as skilled as she is athletic.”
Then, there was that crucial penalty kick in the state title game.
“I have a girl that has taken them throughout the year,” Phongsavath said. “Right when it happened, I tried to look for that girl (she’s a sophomore). The older girls that I’ve known really well, I knew that none of them would want to take that penalty kick, so I looked for that other girl, but couldn’t find her right away.
“Then I saw Olivia and we made eye contact and she gave me that look like ‘I will make this penalty kick,’ which is amazing for a freshman to step in and want to do that. I’ve seen her take plenty of penalty kicks on her club team in big situations, so I didn’t hesitate. When I saw her and that look she gave me, like I want this, I just said, ‘Hey, you’re taking it,’ and she buried it.”
The state title is great and Olivia loved every minute of it, but the invitation to come to training camp with the national team still topped even the state championship.
“I thought the high school thing was super awesome because it was my first time ever playing a high school sport, so winning state was super cool,” Olivia said. “Playing for the national team has been always my dream, so it was super exciting because you’re playing for something bigger, your whole country.
“That’s the highest level of soccer I can play at this point in my life. Hopefully down the road, the full team is my ultimate goal. Right now, just being on the roster of that national team is a big deal.”
The experience of being part of that group of elite soccer players has been quite the experience for someone so young.
“I’ve played the game so long that I don’t really get nervous playing it,” Olivia said. “It’s more like excited. When I’m playing with them, obviously I was nervous the first couple times because I’m the new girl and all these girls have been here for so long and they know what they’re doing, but once I got in the flow of things, it was the funnest thing I’ve ever done.”
Phongsavath sees the opportunity to play the game at that level as something that will elevate Olivia’s game to even greater heights.
“It’s great to always represent your country and be named one of the top 20 girls in the country,” he said. “It will do wonders for your confidence. Olivia’s never lacked for confidence and it’s not a cockiness kind of thing. She’s always believed and showcased her abilities, and she’s never shied away from that, so what I think the national team has done for her and will do for her is to help her understand where she needs to get better and what she needs to improve on a little bit.
“The girls who have been there have been there since they were really little. She’s looking to crack into that and crack into the starting 11. She sees those girls and what their game looks like at that level, and it will help her game.”
From Provo to Spokane
The Wades were always known as a BYU family, but Jesse’s decision to commit to a collegiate basketball future at Gonzaga changed all of that, somewhat. Both parents attended BYU, but Jesse says the whole family loves Gonzaga now, to which Olivia quickly adds, “For basketball.” That’s because Olivia has already committed to play her collegiate soccer for the Cougars in Provo.
“All that (Gonzaga) gear you see with Mr. Wade, that was all BYU before and it will be during soccer season,” Welk said.
So how does a big-time BYU fan end up as a firm commit to Gonzaga even before he plays his junior season in high school?
It started based on Welk’s relationship with former University of Utah, and current Gonzaga assistant coach Donny Daniels. Welk took his teams up to Spokane for camp the year before Jesse arrived on campus and again after his sophomore campaign.
“I still remember the first time Donny called me on him,” Welk said. “It was even before we went up there. Jesse was a huge BYU fan, the whole family was. You’d see him at school – BYU, BYU. When Donny called me (Jesse’s sophomore year), he said, ‘Tell me about Jesse Wade.’
“I said, ‘Well, you know he’s a tough kid, he understands the game, he can score, he can handle the ball, he can get to the basket, he can shoot it, he is good defender. One thing about him is he’s not very big.’ Donny said, ‘How big is he?’ I said, ‘He’s maybe 5-11, 6-feet.’
“And Donny said, ‘That’s the perfect size for a Gonzaga guard.’ So we kept talking a little bit. They were in town playing BYU that night, and Donny couldn’t contact him, so I said to Donny, ‘Do you want me to give him your cell and have him call you?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, you can do that?’
“He was in his science class, and I went down there and I asked him, ‘How locked in are you to BYU in your mindset?’ You’ve got to remember that Gonzaga was No. 1 in the country. He said ‘I’d really like to go to BYU.’ I said, ‘I’ve got a program, it’s a pretty nationally prominent program, that called about you that’s interested.’ And he said, ‘Who is it?’ and I said, ‘Gonzaga.’
He’s thinking, ‘The No. 1 team in the country’ and his eyes just popped open. ‘Coach Daniels wants you to give him a call.’ He said, ‘Really?’ They had him down that night to the game and that talked to him.”
Then came the visit to the summer basketball camp on the Gonzaga campus, and Welk recalls fondly what developed with Jesse during that experience.
“(Gonzaga) Coach (Mark) Few had Jesse and Abel Porter play against their players,” Welk said. “Every night at 10 o’clock, they would go into the McCarthy Center and play – the current and former Gonzaga players – and the only two high school players out of the entire camp playing were Abel and Jesse.
“In this one game, Jesse got matched up…there was this one kid, Jeremy Pargo. Those two got matched up. I was sitting up behind Coach Few and his staff and Jesse’s just playing, like he played in the (state) tournament, that’s how he was playing against those guys. When Coach Few saw him against his own guys, they’d come down and Jesse’s just hitting shots, making passes, he’s getting steals, and Pargo turned around to Coach Few and said ‘Coach, you need to sign this guy.'”
Welk said that after the camp, Gonzaga followed Jesse a little bit, but he credits Jesse’s proactive approach as the key to the official offer, which was followed quickly by his decision to commit to play for the Bulldogs.
“Vanderbilt had come in, and these other guys had come in and watched Jesse play,” Welk said. “He’d be shooting or whatever and they’d just watch him play. Vanderbilt watches him and then leaves, so it was just his parents and I (in the gym), and we’re talking about different schools, and I asked ‘What’s going on with Gonzaga? I know they were talking to him.’
“I said, If it were me, I’d call Coach Daniels and say, ‘What do I have to do to convince you I want to be a Zag?’ And that’s what he did. He called him that night. They were talking, and he said, ‘Coach, what do I need to do to convince you that I want to be a Bulldog?’
He said, ‘Donny said, ‘Let me get on the phone with Coach Few as soon as we get off.’ The next morning, they called him and set up for him and his parents to go up to Gonzaga and they offered him. That’s how that all went. He was up there a week later with his parents, when they offered him.”
Jesse was most convinced to play at Gonzaga because of sense that they were willing and ready to take him as he is, that they just loved his skill set.
“I had a few offers at the time, but I had lots of colleges telling me that they wanted to see how I developed,” Jesse said. “It was never really about skill. It was just about they wanted to see me grow, and Gonzaga came calling and they said, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ And I said, ‘I’m about 6-1 and I don’t know if I’ll grow,’ and they said, ‘Perfect. Our starting guards are 5-11 and 6-1, so you’d fit right in.’
“It was like – Geez, they want me for me and obviously going down, getting with people, praying about it. It felt right. I knew it was the right thing to do. I love Coach Few. Everyone knows how good of a coach he is. He’s laid back, but he’s the type of coach who you will always do exactly what he tells you. If he tells you to run through a brick wall, you do it because of how much respect you have for him. You see him after the game, in the locker room, doing the hand stand. He’s awesome.”
Soccer at BYU
For Olivia, the college recruiting process was short and sweet, particularly since it was all over before she takes a class on the Davis High campus. It was one of those situations where what she wants aligns with the school that wants her.
“They (BYU soccer) started recruiting me a little bit in eighth grade. They could talk to me then,” Olivia said. “They’d come to my competition games, like State Cup, and watch me there. I guess they just wanted me to join their team and BYU’s always been my dream school ever since I was little.
“I like the campus. I like the atmosphere of it all. I really like what BYU stands for and the coaches are all super sweet. I love Coach Rockwood. She’s amazing. I prayed about it and I just felt it was the right thing for me to go there and play for BYU.”
One of the benefits of committing to the Cougars is the presence of one of Olivia’s role models on the BYU coaching staff. Assistant coach Aleisha Cramer Rose was herself once a member of the US National Team.
“She played for the national team and she’s the greatest person, aside from soccer,” Olivia said. “And she’s the most amazing soccer player. She’s been at the level I’m at and it’s so good someone who knows what I’m feeling, who knows what I’m going through, to be there. I’ve never met somebody more nice and sweet and caring. I’m so excited to play for her. She really is my role model.”
Two Years in France
Before Jesse gets to Spokane to showcase his point guard skills, he will team up with former Lone Peak star and future BYU Cougar TJ Haws in the France Lyon Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jesse believes his experiences with the sport he loves will help him immensely as he spends two years sharing his love for the gospel.
“I love playing basketball so much and I love the Church,” Jesse said. “That last shot, I missed it and that’s just how life is. Sometimes you’re going to mess up, something’s going to happen. When I’m out knocking doors and doing stuff like that, and nobody’s listening to me, I can use that experience of missing the shot. That was really tough, but I got through that shot, I can get through the next day of knocking doors, talking to people.
“Just the work ethic, how hard you work in basketball. The same thing transfers into the mission. I’ll work just as hard in the mission field and hopefully I can do some good things there. There’s no question I’ll miss the competition, getting ready for a game, but I’ll be playing basketball and working out there and I’m not worried at all about losing anything. I’ll come back a better player.”
So, who does Jesse believe will be the best basketball player in the France Lyon Mission?
“That’ll be tough,” he said. “All I know is that we’ll be holding lots of two-on-two games. I don’t see me and TJ ever losing. The last two Mr. Basketballs. If we get beat, it would be really shocking. He’s a good guy. I’m excited to go serve with him. It’ll be fun.”
After that, he will have his chance to prove that he can take his game to the next level. Those who know that game the best are confident he will enjoy great success.
“He was up there, when they had him playing, he was playing with David Stockton,” Welk said. “He was on Stockton’s team and it was fun to watch him and Jesse playing together, and there’d be a dead ball, and those two would be over there talking, and they’re going against all those All-American guys, in this game that he was in with and he was more than holding his own. I think that’s when they said, ‘He can play for us.’ And I think he can.”
“I can only go off what I have seen,” Sims said. “His work ethic is going to give him a chance and he is going to work hard to give himself a chance. In my mind, there’s no question he’s going to be successful at the next level. He already talks that way. That’s just how he’s wired. He talks about the success he’s going to have. He talks about how hard he’s going to work when he gets back and there’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to do it.
“To be honest, I think Coach Few and Coach Daniels at Gonzaga deserve a ton of credit for getting this kid as early as they did. I don’t know if they saw something in him or they were taking a chance on him, they got an exceptional player. I think it’s a steal. I think he’s going to be a fabulous player. I’m excited. I don’t think the story’s written with Jesse. I think there’s going to be some things, bigger and better, that are going to happen for him.”
Jesse also sees a future, even after college, filled with big things in his life.
“I’ll just see where it takes me, see where basketball can take me and the doors it can open, whether it involves playing basketball after Gonzaga or it involves meeting people and starting businesses,” Jesse said. “I don’t know for sure yet, but I’m excited for the future, there’s no question about that and I know that it has potential to be good.”
Leaving a Mark
In describing Olivia, Coach Phongsavath really could be talking about any of the Wade kids.
“They were raised the right away and with a work ethic very few kids have,” Phongsavath said. “To be as talented as she is, but to have that work ethic too, that mentality that she has, that is going to set her apart.
“As great as she is on the soccer field, to be a better person than that. She’ll never be as good on the soccer field as she is as a person. She’s a great person. She really cares about others and she’ll do really well in life regardless where she goes with soccer.”
Olivia is just beginning to build her legacy at Davis High School, but if the start is any indication of what is to come, the city might want to start reserving more days on the calendar and have a few extra keys made.
In Jesse’s case, he moves to the next chapter of life having left a huge positive imprint on the school he leaves behind.
“Jesse mentioned in the Mr. Basketball article when he walked into the gym and saw Brody Van Brocklin as Mr. Basketball,” Sims said. “That ignites a fire in these younger kids. I think he leaves a level of excellence and expectation of what can be done here. It’s a community and a school with a lot of tradition and lot of pride and I think it enhanced and magnifies what Davis is all about.”
One person Jesse is sure will raise the level during her time on campus is his sister. There’s a certain level of expectation now with being a Wade.
“Everybody gives me the name ‘Jesse Wade’s little sister,'” Olivia said. “No matter where I go, everybody says, ‘Oh look, there’s Jesse Wade’s little sister.’ I like being known as Jesse Wade’s little sister because, ‘Look at this kid.'”
“She won’t be known as that for much longer,” Jesse replied. “She’ll definitely make her own name.”