Zach Solem inspires the basketball team through his skill and leadership



Zach Solem has often taken the lead not just in dominating the court, but also in inspiring his fellow teammates on varsity basketball to be better people on and off the court.

Throughout the four years he’s played basketball for the high school, senior Zach Solem has grown not only as a player but as an individual, all while influencing his teammates along the way.

Solem has been playing basketball since third grade. This year marks the second year he’s played varsity basketball for the high school and his first as co-captain of the team.

Although Solem played soccer and lacrosse earlier in his life, he decided to stick with basketball as he grew older, and his love for the game has only increased.

“I used to go to a bunch of basketball clinics. I’ve always loved playing it. I was too young to know if I was good enough to play, but then I talked to some coaches and they told me I should play for their team. So that got my interest. Once I started playing that first year I just fell in love with the game,” Solem said.

Senior Obi Ukomadu has known Solem since kindergarten and now plays basketball alongside him. He said he has a lot of admiration for him, believing that as a co-captain, Solem lives up to the leadership role and has proven himself to be a great role model.

“He’s a great teammate. He’s always thinking in the best interest of everyone else and he’s always kind to everyone. I would say as a teammate he’s like the glue of the team. He keeps everyone together,” Ukomadu said. “A lot of what he preaches is about having each other’s backs. He takes ownership for his mistakes which is very big especially for a team captain, as a leader. It’s a great example that he sets.”

Boys varsity basketball coach Courtney Valentine has known Solem since his freshman year and started coaching him during his junior year. He said he’s seen Solem grow tremendously over the years.

“First of all, he’s grown immensely physically. His maturity level has also gone through the roof as he progressed through high school and then his game has just elevated over the past two years,” Valentine said. “He does the extra stuff and it’s taken his game to the next level. A kid like that is an invaluable asset to this program. There’s a reason why he’s one of our captains. He embodies what we want here in Brookline.”

Valentine said that Solem always puts his teammates in front of himself and always strives to help the team as a whole.

“He cares about his teammates deeply. He’s a very mindful and thoughtful young man. It’s not just about sports, he’s a great kid off the court and he advocates for his teammates. Every one of them. Doesn’t matter if it’s a kid on the end of the bench or one of the starters,” Valentine said.

Solem said he has learned a lot from being on a team, especially the importance of unity and dealing with stressful situations.

“When times are tough, you gotta stick together and bringing negativity to the team and putting down your teammates is just the worst thing you can do in times of panic. I feel like not only am I learning how to deal with stuff like that, but I think my teammates are as well. I feel that just staying together and working as a team is probably the most important thing I’ve learned,” Solem said.

Solem said that he hopes he can have an influence on his teammates and help them all grow into the best versions of themselves.

“Being a good leader is very important, especially since we have kids who are juniors and sophomores on our team. I try to do my best to influence them and take my experiences from playing basketball and talk to them during the huddle or on the court,” Solem said. “If we are having problems on the court, I try to calm everyone down and just talk through how we can fix these problems and get better as a team.”

While Solem has influenced his team, he said his parents have influenced him extensively.

“My parents have been there for me my whole life and I’m grateful for them. Whenever I have problems with either my mental health or physical health they’re always there for me. They’re at as many games as they can be at and always just there for me when I need help. I’m just grateful to have parents that are super influential and help me to become the person I am today,” Solem said.

Valentine said Solem represents the Warrior spirit with his selflessness and teamwork. He said Solem has developed the team above all expectations and that thought process has brought a lot to the table for the team.

“He’s all about the team and that’s all I can ask for,” Valentine said. “He’s a great kid.”