Dlayla Chakolis, the 5-8 senior guard for the Hopkins High girls basketball team, comes from a family of athletes.
With her background and work ethic, it is no surprise that she has been offered a scholarship to play NCAA Division I basketball at Hampton University in Virginia.
Dlayla’s dad, Happy Chakolis, was once called “the best athlete in Minneapolis City Conference history” by the legendary Golden Gloves boxing coach Harry Davis.
Indeed, Happy was a superstar for North High. He played football in the fall, then in the winter he wrestled and played basketball. He could have competed in any of the spring sports, but narrowed it down to track and baseball.
Desma Chakolis, Dlayla’s mom, was a high school track star in her own right. And Dlayla’s sophomore brother R.J. is a two-time state wrestling qualifier, as well as the leading tackler on the Hopkins High football team.
“Sports are important in our family,” Dlayla assured. “My parents are really supportive of me and R.J. They haven’t pressured me at all.”
Motivation comes from within for Dlayla, who averaged 17 points per game last winter when the Hopkins girls finished second in the State Class 4A Basketball Tournament. She has three silver medals from the state tourney, and would love to add a gold medal to her collection this season.
“We have a talented group of players with some hungry younger girls,” she said.
Chakolis and All-State junior guard Paige Bueckers are the team leaders. Bueckers already has more than 1,000 career points and is being recruited by NCAA universities in all the major conferences. Dlayla is on her way to the 1,000-point mark, as well.
“I need about 70 more points,” she said.
Those points could come quickly once the 2018-19 season gets underway later this month. In her best game last year, Dlayla had 27 points and 10 rebounds in a victory over Moorhead. She had numerous other 20-point games as a junior.
“Playing with Paige is awesome,” she said. “She can do anything with a basketball, and she looks for assists more than points.”
The Bueckers-Chakolis combination has been hard for anyone to beat, but teams will line up to challenge them this season. Wayzata, Hopkins’ rival in the Lake Conference and Section 6, has all five starters returning from last year, led by 6-2 All-State forward Kallie Theisen.
Dlayla and Bueckers are Hopkins’ primary scorers and three-point shooters, and with the Royals’ pressure defense, they are a constant threat to score off of turnovers.
Royal head coach Brian Cosgriff has nothing but respect for Dlayla.
“She comes from a great family,” Cosgriff observed. “She’s a hard worker who usually has a smile on her face, and also a team-first player.”
Dlayla was elected Hopkins’ homecoming queen this fall, was cheered during the homecoming parade.
In addition to being a premier prep basketball player, Dlayla is a good student, who scored 32 on her ACT test.
She said her sibling rivalry with R.J. is always a source of motivation.
“I used to beat him in wrestling,” she said.
How about basketball?
That’s always a point of contention. Dlayla said she would win, R.J. said he would win.
As they pursue different sports this winter, it is likely both can win. One thing for sure, their parents will be on hand cheering and encouraging them to play the game the right way.
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