Dancing to his own beat

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG –Friday nights were exciting for Caleb Dials as he lined up at the goal line for Calvary Christian football team, awaiting the arrival of this oval, leather pigskin for the opening kickoff for a high school football game.

There was much anticipation as to what would happen when Caleb decided to make a move. One thing was for sure, it was heart wrenching if not unorthodox. Very little moved Caleb in any expeditious way other than his football quickness, where he performed a 90-yard kickoff return from one end zone to the other without an opponent putting a hand on him.

His quickness was also on display on the basketball court when he juked his opponents, leaving them in their shoes as he swiftly passed and drove in for a layup and scored. Caleb has quickness and speed, there’s no doubt about it, but his movements oftentimes is that of his own pace.

Caleb Dials, featuredWhether on the football field, basketball court or in life, with Caleb it’s always a mystery how he will move, and fortunate for him, it usually turns out to be something positive.

“Caleb is a different kind of child. He dances to his own music, beats his own drum and has a carefree approach to life,” said his mother Franchon Dials. “I’m excited to see him graduate and start the next chapter of his life.”

When Caleb was promoted to the eighth grade, he was accepted into Admiral Farragut Academy. As an eighth grader, he played on the varsity football and basketball teams. He participated in overnight camps for youth and volunteered to serve underprivileged kids.

On one outing with the youth, his mother recalls, Caleb gave the money given to him for lunch and incidentals away to the children. He said that after interacting with the kids, he wanted to give them something. The money in his pocket is what he had.

In his junior year, Caleb was faced with a problem. His younger brother Gabriel was accepted to Calvary Christian High School, which is located in Clearwater. The drive proved too time consuming for the boys to go to different schools, so his mom devised a plan.

She put the two of them in a room together and closed the door. Their assignment was to come out of the room with one decision where the two of them would go to school. Caleb conceded and Calvary won out.

As in Caleb’s mode of operation, things began with a splash, or you might say a flash.  In his first ever football game as a Warrior, he took the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. To be sure he left good memories at Calvary, in his final game as a Warrior he ran back an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown. He was also the team leader in receiving yards in his senior season.

In basketball, Caleb finished his career inducted into the “1000 Point Club,” where he scored well over 1,000 points in two years. He also received the Basketball Coaches Award signifying his outstanding leadership.

“Whenever he puts his mind to something he can succeed,” said Izella McCree, Caleb’s grandmother and personal Uber service.

Caleb is weighing out his options before making a final decision on which offer he will accept to college. His decision has narrowed to Bethune-Cookman University, Becker University in Worcester, Mass., St. Petersburg College and Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Okla.  He has decided to major in business and finance in preparation for a career on Wall Street.

Like those Friday nights on the football field and the hardwood of the basketball court, who knows what moves Caleb will make? One thing is for sure, he won’t approach the matter in the typical way, for he has always danced to his own beat.

Caleb is the son of Chico and Franchon Dials.

To reach Dexter McCree, email dmccree@theweeklychallenger.com

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