Middle Park’s Caleb Kissler inspires the best in teammates, others
Sky-Hi News Intern
During last school year’s basketball season at Middle Park High School, Caleb Kissler, who was a sophomore at the time, played a fantastic game against Bennett High School. Kissler scored four 3-pointers in a row, and the electric atmosphere in the gym is a reminder to all athletes and students to start this school year off with strong team and school spirit.
Caleb is 16 years old and is now a junior at Middle Park. He’s been playing basketball since elementary school. He participates in other sports, including soccer and track; his events in track are the 200 and the 100-meter races. Caleb has gone to State twice for these events.
“It’s my favorite sport because you can dribble the ball down and back, and you get to pass the ball,” says Caleb of his love for basketball and excitement for this season. “I’m excited for working hard and practicing hard.”
Caleb has FG Syndrome, which is a rare genetic syndrome caused by one or more recessive genes located on the X chromosome that cause physical anomalies and developmental delays.
But Caleb is just another one of the hard working athletes.
Caleb’s mother, Darcee Kissler, recalls the exciting events during that final game against Bennett.
“It was the last game of the season for the JV/C team and it was a high scoring game. The boys were running up and down the court, and Caleb was guarding animatedly; one of the boys passed the ball to Caleb. He took the shot and, swoosh, nothing but net.”
People really acknowledged Caleb, his teammates congratulated him and people in the stands were cheering. After Caleb got an assist for another shot, he took and made his second 3-pointer. The third shot was soon to follow and by that point, the referee had his hands up with three fingers and the Bennett team members were clapping. Middle Park’s varsity boys were on their feet, cheering and yelling for Caleb. After the fourth one, everyone in the entire gym was on their feet.
“Everyone was going crazy and screaming and clapping and cheering,” Darcee recounted, “The Bennett team gave Caleb the game ball.”
Avery Steinberg, a senior at Middle Park and longtime friend and role model to Caleb, remembers his outstanding performance last season.
“I was losing it because I missed the first two and so I came in because people were telling me that Caleb was on fire. Then he got the third one and I could tell he was excited. Bennett was going crazy and it was probably the coolest moment for me in basketball even though I wasn’t even playing. Caleb’s like the soul of our team. We’re all proud.”
Avery has known Caleb for 12 years and helps him warm up and gives him tips, but Caleb is really more like a brother to Avery.
“He’s a baller,” Steinberg declared.
From a coach’s perspective, James Newberry recalls what a special moment it was in sports.
“That’s why I coach,” he said, “To see those special moments.”
Newberry always believed in coaching to see improvement, and with Caleb it was no different. He was simply another athlete that was held to the same standards as the rest of his team.
“We expected him to perform at a higher level; he was there to get better.”
Newberry always remembered that Caleb was a good shooter. He saw Kissler play in middle school, and as a freshman, Caleb was always coming into the gym to practice shooting. Newberry and the rest of the coaching staff worked with Caleb on the rest of the game: ball control, dribbling, passing, defense.
Kissler improved his all-around game and Newberry, just like everyone else that was at that memorable game, recalls the electric energy and excitement.
“When Bennett gave him the game ball, it was one of the most incredible acts I’ve ever seen,” Newberry said.
“It wasn’t about him, it was about his teammates,” Darcee proclaimed, “I was overwhelmed by them. The kids have such ownership of Caleb, and that’s what I’m so proud of. In any game, regardless of what it is, they always put him up. They have an undying commitment to push him to be better.”
So for this upcoming school year, in all sports and activities, remember Caleb’s story with his basketball team. Take that same spirit and passion and put it in your game, into your life.
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