Chaim Schalk is a new champion. Better yet, he’s a new father and perhaps the luckiest beach volleyball player around.
And boy, does Schalk get around 😜
The native of Red Deer, Alberta, the “metropolis” halfway between Calgary and Edmonton, has already represented Canada in the Olympics. Interesting thing about Schalk, though, is that the next time he puts on a uniform for an international tournament, he’ll be sporting the flag of the United States.
We’ll have to wait for October for that though, when his transfer from Canada is officially complete and cleared by the international federation. Meanwhile, Schalk is at home in Southern California celebrating newborn Koa with wife and AVP pro, Lane Carico.
Now fully invested on the AVP Tour with Jeremy Casebeer, Schalk is also celebrating his first professional victory, when he and Casebeer captured the AVP Seattle Open on June 23rd. It’s all in the family; Lane’s lone AVP victory also occurred in Seattle in 2016.
“It has been great to share the win with my biggest supporters back home, family is everything to me,” Schalk said. “And to have Lane and Koa along with many others supporting me while I pursue my goals means the world to me.”
Schalk has long split time between Canada and the U.S. since he and Lane married. But knowing that he possessed dual citizenship – his mother grew up in Iowa – the thought of setting up shop south of the border was always an option.
But the obstacles in front of him were far more daunting and complicated than facing a serve from Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves or trying to dig a ball from Phil Dalhausser.
“I knew all along that there was a possibility to get my U.S. citizenship. However, the process was in fact a nightmare to do so. In 2015, I started the process in order to marry Lane and reside in the U.S. It was a ton of gathering of information and many denials before they finally accepted my application.”
“Gathering information” is a rather benign way to put it. Schalk needed, among other things, official government documentation such as medical and school records from his mom for every year she lived in the United States. It didn’t help that there were no school records from her from age 6-11 since the school she attended had closed.
“At one point I was on the phone with the secretary of the school from when she was there who was looking for documents in her attic for my mom,” Schalk said. “Finally I collected an acceptable amount of proof, and with the help of Lane’s father Chris, I was able to get my citizenship and passport.”
Now comes the easy part – hitting the beach for volleyball. He’s played on the AVP Tour since 2017 and his first partner was another foreign player, Ricardo Santos, the legendary Brazilian who has struck gold, silver, and bronze from his four Olympic appearances.
This year, Schalk’s with new partner Jeremy Casebeer, a veteran who has been searching high and low for his right partner. It appears both have hit on something and it clicked for real in Seattle, where they ran the table and dropped only one set.
“We have very similar thoughts on the game and both are heading the same direction so it was a natural fit for me,” Schalk said. “So far, it has been a pleasure playing with Jeremy. We both have the same goals and work extremely hard which will pay off in the long run.
“Seattle is a tournament that I will never forget. Jeremy and I, along with our coach Mike Campbell, put a lot of work into the early parts of the season and have been building positively every tournament. It’s nice to look your partner in the eye and trust that they are doing whatever it takes to reach their goals individually and also collectively as a team. We have stayed positive with each other through some ups and downs early in the season, and to be rewarded with our first win makes it feel extra sweet.”
The rewards keep coming. It will have been a month between tournaments before Schalk and Casebeer return to action in Hermosa Beach.
For now, it’s family time combined with training without the grind of travel thrown in. Schalk will work out on the beach in the morning, then head to USA Volleyball’s training center in Torrance, then return home for baby duties while Lane can get her work done.
“It has been so cool seeing Koa grow,” Schalk said. “Having a child has changed my perspective on many things. I can’t wait for Hermosa and Manhattan Beach to have the whole family together for those ones.
“We live in Gardena, but spend a lot of time in Manhattan Beach. Lane’s family lives right there, so often we will spend time with them. We like to walk around Polliwog Park and get our dogs some exercise while spending time together. We also obviously love spending time at the beach, no shortage of that in our lifestyle.”
For the Schalk family, life at home definitely begins anew.