Oliver Beauvoir knows what he doesn’t know.
And he knows what he has to know.
Beauvoir is a senior guard on the Samuel Fels High School basketball team, and he entered the year as the leader and captain of the Panthers’ young squad.
But as poised as he is on the court, he understands that every day is a chance to get better, and while he’s come a long way, he still has a lot to learn.
“I played soccer before I played basketball, I didn’t play basketball when I was younger,” said Beauvoir, who moved to Philadelphia from Haiti when he was 9. “My brother, he’s older and he’s a great soccer player. He played at Fels and was All-Public and all that. I liked soccer, but I like basketball a lot more.
“I’m getting better. Last year I started at point guard, but (Fels coach Mark Heimerdinger) moved me to shooting guard because we had guys who can play point and I’m a pretty good scorer. I’m working on getting better for everyone.”
Beauvoir has a good reason for wanting to get better. He wants to help his young team enjoy a great season. And the reason that’s possible is he has a lot of talent around him.
Beauvoir leads a balanced Fels attack through five games. He is the only player averaging more than 10 points, scoring 14.3 points per game, but five other players are averaging more than five points per game.
“That’s the thing about our team, it’s hard to cover somebody because we have a lot of options,” said Beauvoir, who lives in North Philadelphia. “I’m just trying to win, and I love getting my teammates involved. That helps everyone.
“I’m the kind of player who likes to score, but if I score a lot, like 30 and lose, I wouldn’t be happy. I’d rather have 10 points, five rebounds, 10 assists and have everyone else doing their part. That’s what makes a team.”
Beauvoir learned that attitude last year when Fels lost some winnable games, and this year he’s doing what he can to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“When we listen and do what we’re told, we play a lot better than when we do whatever we want,” Beauvoir said. “Look at everything Coach has done. He’s a great coach. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s the best coach out there. If we listen to him, and we do things the right way, we can beat a lot of teams.”
Fels has gotten off to a fast start, winning four of its first five games. Last week, the Panthers knocked off Strawberry Mansion 49-48 on Thursday and then bested Franklin Learning Center 71-59 on Friday.
“We’re getting better, so I think we’ll be better every day,” Beauvoir said. “We have young guys who haven’t played (varsity) before, so they have a lot to learn. And even the experienced guys like me, I have a lot to learn. I’m learning every practice. If we know we don’t know everything, we will be better because we know we have to get better.”
Beauvoir knows the fate of this year will rest on how hard the team works, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes.
Even if it means giving up sleep.
When most teenagers are snoring, Beauvoir is making his way to the gym to take a few extra shots before he has to grab a quick breakfast and get to class. It isn’t easy, but he knows winning takes work.
“I’m getting up at 4 a.m. and coming in here,” Beauvoir said. “It’s cold and a little scary because it’s still dark, but it’s cool. Today, my mom drove me. There are other guys coming, too. We get here and just work on getting some shots up, and doing little things. We do that, and I think we could have a really good year.”
Beauvoir is all about improvement. And he’s consistent in all aspects of his high school career.
“My goals for this year is to do better in school, that’s the biggest thing,” said Beauvoir, who maintains a 3.0 grade point average. “I am doing good, but I know I can do a lot better and if I want to play in college, I have to do better. And I want to improve my SAT scores, too. And, of course, I want to be better in basketball and do what I can to help us be a better team and win a lot of games.”
He also has goals beyond Fels, and that involves going to college. Playing hoops would be great, but he knows he wants to get an education.
“I want to do something in medicine, either be a pediatrician or sports medicine,” Beauvoir said. “I like those subjects, science, I’m pretty good at it, and they’re both jobs that I’ve always wanted to do.
“Being a pediatrician is good because you’re able to help people, little kids. I’m sure it’s great to do that. And I like sports medicine, too. When I was younger, I hurt (my ankle) and they took care of me. They helped me get better. They were really nice, and it helped me get back. I want to do something where I’m able to help.”
Just as he’s willing to do for the basketball team.
“I will do anything to help the other guys,” Beauvoir said. “I’m working on being a better leader and if I do that, that means helping the other guys get better. That’s just one of the things I want to do better this year.” ••