Campus News

Who is Isaiah Cavaco?

February 7, 2022

Yvonne Gay

A coach speaks to his players on the sidelines.
Isaiah Cavaco (pictured center) instructs the men’s basketball team during a game.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Isaiah Cavaco

Free throws can ruffle the feathers of even the best players, but Head Men’s Basketball Coach Isaiah Cavaco has a remedy for that. Find out what it is and why he’s excited about going to New Orleans later this year in this installment of Who Am I?


Full Name: Isaiah Cavaco

Department and location on campus? Athletics and Physical Education located in Philips Gym

Job title? Head Men’s Basketball Coach

What does your job entail? I recruit student athletes and use basketball to help enhance the Oberlin experience.

How many years at Oberlin? This is my 18th year. During that time, I served as assistant coach for two years, interim head coach for one year, and head coach for 15.

What do you enjoy most about basketball? I enjoy the combination of individual freedom with discipline and teamwork. Basketball has evolved so much over the last few years that each player can bring a unique twist to the game while the team aspect enhances each player’s abilities.

What do you enjoy most about coaching? I enjoy the challenge of helping our players and our team exceed the average learning curve so that they can achieve greater things over a longer stretch of time. Figuring out how to make that connection with each individual personality is hard, but when the majority of the group gets on that path, it’s fun watching their growth take on its own energy.

How did you first become involved with the game?  I used to go with my dad to basketball games all the time. I really don’t remember a time in life when basketball wasn’t my favorite thing. 

What position did you play in college? I played at Yale University and graduated in 2001. I was a point guard to start my career but spent a lot of time at shooting guard after three knee surgeries took away a bit of my already limited speed. My most memorable game would have to be a double-overtime win against Princeton in the John J. Lee Amphitheater that snapped their long winning streak. We even got to go on SportsCenter!

Most memorable game (or season) as a coach at Oberlin? The 2019–2020 NCAC conference tournament win at DePauw is the most memorable win I’ve experienced here at Oberlin. My favorite season was probably the 2018–2019 season because we finally broke into the top half of the NCAC.

Free throws tend to throw even the best players off their game. Any advice you can give on making a successful free throw? Don’t overthink it. Keep your shoulders relaxed, take a deep breath (and exhale), release from your fingertips, and let it go.  

Favorite movie? Hangover 3

Favorite childhood memory?  Any time our family would all get together, usually for a birthday party or holiday.

Best vacation ever? Summer of 2019, my wife, kids, and I went to southern California and spent time at a beach and Disneyland.

Any recent achievements you would like to tell us about? I’ve been selected to coach in the first Silverwaves Media All-Academic All-American Rising Stars game in New Orleans at the Men’s Final Four this year. I’m really excited to be a part of what I think will become a major, annual event.

Hobbies? I still like to exercise, mostly by working out at basketball or doing kickboxing workouts off campus. I also enjoy looking for Bigfoot with my family, something we did often during the initial quarantine period.

Nickname(s)?  I-man, Coco or Zeke—none are my choice.

Favorite food? Spam Musubi or Skyline Chili

Favorite quote? “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth,” by Muhammad Ali

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