Daughhetee (pronounced Daw-ty), a Kelly High School senior baseball standout, has received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., as a blue chip recruit based on his academic, athletic and community achievements.
"It's the ultimate college experience in my eyes," said Daughhetee. "You get a real structured way of life and I can play baseball, too. It's an honor to be accepted."
The well-rounded Daughhetee, a perfect 4.0 grade-point student during his four years of high school, is recognized as a leader at his school, his church and in his community, as well as on the baseball diamond.
Longtime Kelly teammate and fellow student, Jordan Felter, spoke of his high regard and respect for Daughhetee.
Said Felter, "If I had to take one guy anywhere in the world with me, whether it was up a dark alley or to lay out on a sunny beach, it would be Caleb Daughhetee, because he's always going to be there for you."
Superlatives flow easily from those who know this extraordinarily talented and dedicated young man.
Perhaps no one knows Caleb better than father Tom, who praised his son's attitude and demeanor in an almost peerlike tone.
"Caleb's been a really good kid to work with because of his temperament," said Tom. "He seldom gets mad at anything and, if he does, he's over it real quick. He's never doubted authority, always followed what people told him and tried to learn from everything he did.
"The Academy should be a perfect fit for his future."
Kelly High School baseball coach Cory Johnson said, "This is my third year with Caleb and he's out here everyday working to make himself and the team better. That kind of kid is going to get rewards like getting an opportunity to play baseball at the Air Force Academy.
"He puts the time in, is very superior in the classroom and he's just a great kid and a great leader. Anybody would be lucky to have a kid like that and I can't say enough about him. It's going to be tough not having him around."
Kelly's loss is sure to be Air Force's gain.
"When I first stepped on the Academy grounds, I was impressed," Daughhetee said. "They gave me a tour and I actually had a chance to sit in on some classes. The instructors were just awesome."
During the on-campus visit, Air Force baseball coach Mike Hutcheon talked about the task ahead of rebuilding the Air Force baseball program and Daughhetee's role in that process.
With a senior second baseman graduating, Daughhetee figures heavily in the Falcons' rebuilding plans. He's expected to have an excellent shot at stepping in as a freshman starter.
Currently, Air Force, a member of the Mountain West Conference, is 10-26 overall, 1-12 in the conference.
The MWC includes Wyoming, San Diego State, Texas Christian, Nevada-Las Vegas, Colorado State, Brigham Young, New Mexico, and Utah.
Yet, there remains some work at Kelly for the four-year letterman.
"It's my senior season and I'm really shooting for that district title and even farther than that," said Daughhetee. "We've got a great group of guys this year and all 18 of us want to win."
Daughhetee, self-described as a scrappy type of player, leads the Hawks this season with a stellar .521 average with one home run, two triples and three doubles. He recently had a 15-game hit streak snapped.
A starter since his freshman season, Daughhetee, a line-drive spray hitter, sports a career average of around .500.
When not at his regular shortstop position, he also takes turns on the mound, currently with a 2-3 won-lost record and a miniscule ERA of 1.27. "I always try to hustle and put forth my best effort," he said, of his playing style. "I don't like to lose."
Added Felter, "On top of all that, he's an excellent team leader. Whenever the team's down, Caleb's always been there to keep us up, talking people through tough times when frustration might set in.
"His passion for the game is unmatched. He's the first guy here and the last one to leave everyday. He's just a great asset to any team."
Renowned for his work ethic, Daughhetee has packed 24 pounds of muscle on his 5-foot-8, 182-pound frame with a disciplined workout regimen.
He rises at 5:30 a.m. for early morning workouts, attends school and then sometimes works out after school, baseball practice permitting. Over the summer, he completed 12 weeks at Sikeston's Health Facilities Rehab's S.E.T. (Sports Enhancement Training) program, improving his 40-yard dash time by .2 seconds to 4.5.
"That really got me in shape," he said, referring to the program's speed and agility drills, "in more ways than just weightlifting."
Daughhetee will begin his four-year stay -- Academy students typically graduate in four years -- when he arrives at Colorado Springs on June 28 for basic cadet training, a boot camp for new entrants.
While receiving a quality education, Daughhetee is also preparing to serve his country.
"Everything is paid for from the day he walks in to the day he walks out, plus they'll give him $780 per month, health insurance and the same benefits that anyone else in the military would get," said Tom.
The idea of applying at a military academy had not been a longtime aspiration for Caleb.
Recruited to play baseball at 23 schools, ranging from junior colleges to Division I schools, he recently expressed interest in the Air Force Academy and started the application process, although relatively late.
"I'd been thinking about the military for a while, but never really said anything to Mom or Dad," said Caleb. "It came up and I said 'what about an academy' and they thought that was awesome. They jumped on board and we just rode with it.
"Luckily, I was able to get in. It's hard to get into the academy. They say 18,000 apply each year, but only about 1,000 are accepted."
With the sponsorship of Missouri congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson, the Daughhetee family dove into the application process in November.
"We were pushed for time, but we got it done," said Caleb, who easily met the Academy's stringent entrance requirements.
Daughhetee plans to pursue a law degree, but hasn't ruled out the possibility of pilot training.
"The opportunity is certainly there," said Daughhetee, who is leaning towards a military career. "You move up pretty quickly, coming out of the Academy, so I could definitely make a career of it."
Whatever career path Caleb Daughhetee chooses, one thing is certain. He is the total package and his tenacity, discipline, intelligence, personality and work ethic make him a sure bet to rise to the top.
Editor's note: Caleb and family expressed thanks to all the area coaches for their letters of recommendation, with special thanks to Cory Johnson, Kelly high school coach; Mike Umfleet, Scott City High School and Junior American Legion coach; Mike Minner, Charleston assistant coach; and Jeff Graviett, Notre Dame coach.