In most cases, those boundaries are usually just invisible borders for fenced-in limits and standards.
The sophomore on the Hagerstown Community College men’s basketball team has proven things can be so much better if you take a chance to hop the fence. In his case, that fence was an actual border to ultimately improve his life and his basketball game.
“Nothing good comes easy,” Chisholm said.
It takes only five basketball minutes — the final five on any scoreboard — to show Chisholm’s improvement. Those last 300 seconds are what HCC coach Barry Brown calls “winning time.” Brown turns to Chisholm to erase the boundary between winning and losing as the Hawks’ version of baseball’s closer.
“Alister gets out there and makes things happen,” Brown has said.
In the process, Chisholm convinced himself the grass is actually greener on the other side. Boundaries are just the suggestion of a stop sign.
Chisholm’s biggest hurdle may have been coming to HCC, since he elected to cross the Canadian border to come to the lower 48 to test the limits of his game. He left his home and family in the Greater Toronto area to push personal boundaries.
The most confining one was his perspective, which may have been bigger than changing his address.
“Grades were a big thing for me in high school, but I didn’t take basketball seriously,” Chisholm said. “Education and basketball go hand in hand. I didn’t know it could take me this far.”
The statement is a twist from the norm. Players at junior colleges are usually labeled as high on talent and low on grades. They latch on to the importance of their game while ignoring the books.
Chisholm was in role reversal.
“I lacked focus,” he said. “If I take basketball more seriously, it will give me the opportunity to do more things.”
The beginning of Chisholm’s defining moment came after scoring 51 points in a high school game. The performance became his calling card.
“In my last year of high school, I got a letter inviting me to play at a Junior Nationals camp in Detroit,” the 6-foot-3 guard said. “They said they saw that game and told me that they would love to have me come. It was the wakeup call that someone thought I was a good player.”
The invitation provided clarity for Chisholm.
“I started to take basketball more seriously,” he said. “I started to do more things to take care of my body and watching what I eat. It gave me the wakeup call to put forward the effort and start looking for a college.”
Chisholm knew that he needed to lift the level of his game. He was good in Canada, playing high school and the Canadian version of AAU ball, but that wasn’t good enough. He needed to come to the United States.
“It was a tough decision,” Chisholm said. “I felt like I was defying my mom. She didn’t want me to leave. I looked around. I had three siblings that had made choices and got with the wrong crowd and ended up on the wrong side. I wasn’t going to do that. It hurt me to hurt my mom, but I needed to go.”