Estes dedicates senior season to kicking for cancer
On top of the responsibilities that come along with being the starting kicker and punter on one of the top high school squads in the state, Marshall County rising senior Caleb Estes will add a new dimension to his game this season--fundraising.
The third-year starter is taking pledges throughout the 2017 season to help a cause that is very close to his heart, Kick it for Cancer.
"I'm supporting Kick it for Cancer this year," Estes said. "It's kind of like a walk-a-thon except you pledge money per-point or touchback. I'm doing per-point, so you can pledge any dollar amount for every point that I score and that cash goes towards pediatric cancer research."
Kick It for Cancer was started in 2010 when then 10-year old Quinn Clarke from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was going through a second round of cancer treatment and decided to organize a kickball game to raise cancer treatment funds.
More than 500 people (some from as far away as Hawaii and Australia) showed up for the event and with that a new and successful charity was born.
"I found out about this through Kohl's Kicking, and a friend of mine, Charles Campbell, the nationís top fundraiser for Kick it for Cancer," Estes, who trains with Campbell in Brentwood, explained. "He's really helped me with my campaign, especially how to publicize it."
"My dad survived pediatric cancer, he had liver cancer when he was five, so when I found out about it I looked at my senior season and I thought what better way to give back?" Estes added. "Because there really is no losing. It's a fantastic cause and it's just a good thing to have for the football team, the school, and the city."
Estes, the number 61st ranked punter nationally by Kohl's Kicking, led the Tigers with a 37.1 punting average, kicked off 100 times for a 55.1 average and 54 touchbacks, nailed 7-of-11 field goals, and made 71-of-73 points after touchdown kicks.
So in theory, a one dollar per-point donated by a single individual during the 2016 season would have netted Estes $78 to donate the Kick It for Cancer.
With the 2017 season fast approaching, Estes and kicking coach Tony Johnson have been putting in the work during the off season to significantly increase upon Estes 2016 totals,
"As a human being (Estes) is just a great guy and nobody works as hard as he does," Johnson, who also coached star Tennessee kicker Aaron Medley, said. "We were working on Saturday mornings in the winter while everyone else was still in bed. He's just a great guy and he has tremendous concentration which you have to have to be a great kicker."
Estes has also seen the extra work during the off season already paying dividends as the all-region kicker has gotten stronger in the weight room and has improved on lengthy field goals along with a deeper kickoff with more height.
"I've gotten stronger and I'm expecting a lot more power on kick offs," Estes stated. "I know that 65-to-70 yards is a touchback either way, but we're expecting a lot of power on the kick offs. My field goal consistency has come a long way since last season and I'm expecting to hit at least 15 field goals this year if given the opportunity."
And with such successful sophomore and junior seasons leading to a national ranking in punting and kicking, Estes looks to follow in Medley's footsteps to become the second straight Marshall County kicker to go on to play Division I football after a decorated high school career. With that opportunity, Estes sees another chance to give back by continuing has Kick It for Cancer campaign into the college ranks.
"I can definitely carry this into the college game," Estes said. "There were 15 kickers from the state of Tennessee that signed to play college somewhere and we're looking for someone to pull the trigger really soon."
"I've visited Austin Peay, Yale, and Harvard this summer and have looked a little bit at UT-Martin," Estes explained. "Chattanooga has talked to me a little bit and the Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) has talked to me as well. I've left a lot of options opened and I'm really gonna zone in on the season."
Marshall County has been great in the past about rallying behind outstanding causes and with childhood cancer being the number one killer of children in the United States our friends and neighbors don't have to look very far to know someone that has been impacted by the disease.
Those interested in helping Caleb with the fundraiser can make a one-time donation or can pledge any dollar amount for each point Estes completes this season.
"You can google kickit.org and under support an individual, just type in my name and my page will come up," Estes said. "You can call WJJM, I have given them all of my info, you can add me on Facebook and send me a message or even just go through the football team. All of that will work."
In a day and age when team sports have become increasingly individualized, the Tiger football program's willingness to stand behind Estes' idea to raise capital for a cause that transcends the game through the game is a great reason for the community to come together and make our kicker the number one fundraiser in the Volunteer state.
"I just found out about (the fundraiser) a few days ago but I think it's great," Johnson said. "Most people wouldn't take the time to set this up but that's just the kind of person he is."
The Tigers start the regular season on Friday, August 18 at home against a recent Davidson County powerhouse, Cane Ridge.