Castleberry signing with DBU

Vernon High School multi-sport senior Kell Castleberry signed a letter of intent Tuesday afternoon to attend Dallas Baptist University on a tennis scholarship. The signing ceremony was held in the foyer of D.O. Fulton Gym and was attended by Kell’s family, friends, teammates and coaches.

Kell is a four-year varsity starter for the VHS tennis program and has been a three-year letterman and two-year starter for the Lions basketball team. He was also a starter on the baseball team last year, and will again hit the diamond once the basketball season is over.

“Kell does a heck of a job at anything he does,” Vernon Athletic Director Kevin Sherrill told those on hand for the signing ceremony. “It is always exciting when one of our athletes gets the opportunity to take their skills to the next level, and I know Kell will do great things. I haven’t had the privilege to coach Kell, but I’ve seen him on the basketball court, on the tennis court and on the baseball field, and he’s fiery competitor. I’m very excited for him.”

Basketball head coach Mark Wynn also talked about Kell’s competitive spirit.

“Kell wants to win more than anybody. But the great thing about Kell is – he doesn’t care what his role is. He’s a team player,” Wynn said. “He always comes out ready to play and is the heartbeat of our team. I’m very proud of him.”

The Lions basketball team made the playoffs this season for the fourth year in a row, and for the last three of those years Kell’s offensive and defensive play, along with his leadership, have helped keep that playoff streak alive.

While Kell, the son of Toby and Carrie Castleberry, excels on the basketball court and is solid on the baseball diamond, the tennis court is where he has really made his mark in VHS athletics. Last spring, he helped lead the Lions to a Texas Tennis Coaches Association Team Tennis state championship and after that he and his partner, Kinsey Weatherly, won the UIL Class 3A Mixed Doubles state title.

He has been selected twice to the TTCA Super Elite Team, and has also earned multiple district honors. So far this season, Kell has a record of 27-0 in boys’ singles, and after team tennis, he is hoping to make a run at the Class 3A Boys Singles title.

Like any coach would be, the VHS tennis coach is very proud of Kell’s accomplishments and for his opportunity to play at the next level. But, it means even more to VHS tennis coach Carrie Castleberry – Kell’s mom.

“I’m proud of him on two levels – as his coach and as his mom,” she told those gathered for the ceremony. “He is such a competitor and he is a winner. From the time he was 8 years old he has believed that he could beat anyone he faced. He didn’t care how old they were or how big they were, he stepped on the court believing he was going to win.

“Kell is also fiercely loyal to his teammates,” Carrie continued. “I’ve seen him take up for teammates on the tennis court, the basketball court and on the baseball field. It doesn’t matter the sport, Kell is going to have your back if you’re a teammate. He’s loved every sport he has played. He now has the opportunity to raise his level of play and I think the ceiling is high.”

Although Kell has played multiple sports, his first love has always been tennis and once he started looking at where he could play at the next level, Dallas Baptist was always at the top of his list. One reason for that is because he already knows the coaches because of his sister Sarah Castleberry, who is wrapping up her final year on the DBU tennis team this spring.

“I really like the coach a lot. He seems like a nice guy,” Kell said. “The other guys were nice too and it just seems like a nice environment to go play in. But it’s going to be tough. They have a lot of good players. I’m definitely going to try and get into the lineup.”

Dallas Baptist is an NCAA Division II team and a member of the Lone Star Conference.

When asked about the other sports he plays, Kell said he knows he’ll miss playing other sports for his school and at that competitive level, but then smiled and added, “there’s always intramurals.”