You may have seen this baller’s shooting skills on TikTok. Dunks? Easy. Three-point shots? Impressive! But shooting the ball without even looking? Now we’re talking!
Cole Micek is a 25-year-old Filipino-American who’s always had a heart for basketball. Since his childhood and teen years, he’s been familiar with how the court works. He also played the point guard and shooting guard positions for Ateneo de Manila University, and now has been continuing his basketball and modeling (yes, he’s also a fashion and commercial model under Wilhelmina) careers in California.
In this exclusive interview, Garage chats with Cole on his basketball journey, key moments with the late Kobe Bryant, rising modeling career, and how he keeps the ball rolling in the time of the pandemic.
How did your love for basketball come about?
I’ve been playing basketball since I was a year old. My dad was a college coach and he introduced me to the game at a young age. We have a great relationship and he has been my individual basketball trainer my whole life. I think I was around 13 or 14 years old when I started to take it very, very seriously. Basketball is my first love and will always be my number one passion. I owe a lot of my networks and lifelong relationships to the game. It allowed me to travel and play in all different places, create lifelong friendships, and get out of college debt free which I’m very grateful for.
How was it like playing for Ateneo de Manila University?
At the time, it was the best option for me as far as playing in college. After high school, even though I was part of the California Interscholastic Federation and my team won the championship, I didn’t get a lot of high-level recognition and scholarship opportunities. I decided to go with Ateneo because it was a great opportunity for me to continue my athletic and academic career as well as immerse myself in Filipino culture.
How about the University of Saint Francis?
Playing for the University of St. Francis was absolutely amazing. Choosing to play there was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. We made history as the first ever Saint Francis team to make it to the Sweet 16 of the national tournament as well as when a conference tournament championship. I was second leading scorer in my junior season and had some tremendous games in the playoffs. They were extremely fun because we were the underdogs and ended up beating everyone on the road.
What’s keeping you busy as of the moment?
I’m currently training with my FIBA 3×3 team as well as individually with my dad throughout the week. My modeling and acting work has been keeping me busy as well as music. This past year, I’ve been writing music for a very good friend of mine, as well as for other artists and musicians.
I’ve been very fortunate to have a good friend and mentor in Jamie Foxx, as he has helped me a ton over the pandemic. He opened up his house to me so I could go work out, hang out, and has given me tons of advice on how to be fearless and confident in my future career path.
Another thing that has been keeping me busy is being a creator on TikTok. I started creating silly and lighthearted videos during the lockdown so I could pass time in between training. I am so grateful for all of the positive love and support I’ve been receiving on the app!
“I’ve done my absolute best to protect my elders, to protect the Asian community and spread awareness on the things that are going on, the ways that we can help, and how we can become unified and practice solidarity in our fight against racism in all its forms.”
How are you coping with the pandemic?
It has been a tough past year and a half for all of us. I’ve done my best at continuing to spread love and spread kindness and shine my light on people that need it most. I lost a few friends and family members because of COVID-19 and it definitely took its toll. And especially now because of the pandemic, Asian-Americans are receiving an insane amount of hatred, racism, and ignorance. It has been extremely disheartening to see the constant hate, beatings, and murders. I’ve done my absolute best to protect my elders, to protect the Asian community and spread awareness on the things that are going on, the ways that we can help, and how we can become unified and practice solidarity in our fight against racism in all its forms.
Talking about the modeling world, how were you approached by Wilhelmina to become one of their models?
A modeling agency in the Philippines actually reached out to Wilhelmina and other agencies in LA when I moved back here. They sent in some of my photos and scheduled meetings with Wilhelmina and other agencies like DT Model Management and Photogenics. Wilhelmina wanted to sign me right away, which was a huge blessing. I’ve been with them ever since! I also recently signed with the Miami branch as well so I’m excited to get out there for work.
“So the saying ‘Go, get buckets,’ lives with me to this day as I have translated it to being confident and pursuing my passions with all my heart and soul; being fearless and having a mamba mentality when I approach life.”
What’s your proudest moment as a model?
My proudest moment as a model was probably my Kohl’s campaign because it was my first big campaign and my mom was so happy to see me in stores. Growing up I remember shopping in those stores asking my mom, “How come they don’t have any Asian models or people that look like me?” So for that to come full circle was really cool. My mom went and took pictures at the store which was super cute.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to work with Quay Australia, Onepiece, Kmart, and much more! I’ve acted in commercials like Amazon Audible, and Theragun and I’m really excited for the Pokémon commercial I recently shot.
Is there a quote you stand by? Or a life lesson you’ve learned, especially from one of your icons, Kobe Bryant?
There are numerous quotes I stand by. There is a Henry David Thoreau quote that I really like that says, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life that you have imagined.”
And also Kobe has multiple amazing quotes that inspire me. One of them goes like, “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”
Kobe taught me a lot during the interactions we were able to have together. The first day I met him he watched me work out and complimented my work ethic and my shooting form. When I told him I’m going to Saint Francis on a full ride scholarship he told me, “Go, get buckets!” I proceeded to tell him that I’ll do my best; only to be immediately shut down by him saying, “No. I don’t want you to try your best. I want you to go out there and do it. Be confident and fearless.”
So the saying “Go, get buckets” lives with me to this day, as I have translated it to being confident and pursuing my passions with all my heart and soul—being fearless and having a mamba mentality when I approach life.
What do you miss the most in the Philippines and do you have plans of coming back?
I miss my friends and family the most out there. I miss the food, the culture, the beaches, the people! I have plans of coming back after the pandemic. I’d love to play for Alab Pilipinas down the road or model, and act out there for a bit. Mahal ko ang Pilipinas at mahal ko kayong lahat.
Image source: Cole Micek’s Instagram account