By JOHN WELSH, Contributing Writer
Growing up with a kid that was doing backflips off of walls, hitting home runs in little league baseball, and hitting a golf ball 150 yards his first try, you could tell this kid was just filled with talent.
I met D’Mauriae VanCleave in the third grade. He was one of my closest friends in elementary school and middle school. He was always the fastest, most athletic kid in the class — and also one of the nicest kids in the class.
Being on oxygen throughout elementary school, VanCleave would always offer to help me out any way he could. I would always enjoy getting a personal invite to ride with him to his little league football games because they were just fun to watch him dominate all the other kids in our age group.
As he would play the game, I would study. Seeing him run reverses, draws, counters, and pitches, I got to learn a lot about the game. I’ve never met anyone that loves the game the way he does. Whenever I would go to his house to hangout, he would always watch film of him performing on the football field.
He proved to me that size doesn’t matter. If you have the skills and drive, the scouts will come. He has excelled in every sport he has played. In baseball he broke the school record for stolen bases in a single season, and came close to breaking the single season stolen base record for the state. In basketball he always was the fastest, and best, defender on the court.
He is the only person that I know who has that winning mindset. In the offseason of his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons he stayed in the weight room dedicated to improving himself in anyway he could.
Not only did the Danville Admirals team as a whole have a perfect season (15-0), but DVC had the perfect season as well. Not missing a single game, winning MVP in the state championship game, Class 2A player of the year, being named to the All State first team, and topping it all off with being the first Admiral ever named Mr. Kentucky.
I figured that he was going to have a standout season. But I don’t think anyone expected this much!