By Thomas Sellers Jr.
It is said breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
And several great athletes in history give credit to eating their Wheaties. Brighton’s Kolton Childress apparently took those life lessons to heart.
“He just grew into a monster,” Kolton’s father Travis said. “We always tease him because all he does is eat cereal. That cereal made him get so big. He’s a really good athlete to say the less.”
Childress grew into a 6’4, 190 three-sport standout at Brighton High School. And on Feb. 5 in the Brighton High School Gymnasium Childress inked a national letter of intent in the sport that was his first love — baseball.
Childress will be heading to Freed-Hardeman University to play for Lions Head Coach Jonathan Estes.
“We really like him on the mound,” Estes said. “We see him as a guy who can come out immediately and pitch for us some innings out of the bullpen. Hopefully expend that role as he gets there. He’s a terrific athlete which is important at the college level.”
Estes was a multiple sport athletic during his prep days. Once he became familiar with Childress’ background he wanted him on his team.
“He’s a great kid and he gets it done in the classroom and he wants to be successful at the next level,” he said. “We look for great athletes. And what he is able to do off the baseball field, basketball court and football field, he’s going to take those experiences to the baseball field of the collegiate game. He’s going to be able to deal with the mental issues, the pressure.”
Childress has seen his share of intense moments in the world of athletics over the years in baseball, basketball and football. His older brother and former Cardinal standout receiver John Osborne was there for advice.
Parents Travis and Kim Childress were there for support all the time for Kolton. There in the standout cheering him on were grandparents Ruben and Carol Cantu. And Kolton wanted to be a role model for his younger sisters Kaylee and Kinlee.
When he was the age his sisters are now, Kolton got involved with baseball playing in Tennessee and Mississippi for traveling teams. As a teenager Childress played for the Memphis Tiger traveling squad.
“This day means a lot to me,” Travis said. “Kolton has worked really hard. He’s always been self-motivated. He’s been playing baseball since he was 5 years old in this area.
“That has really prepared him,” he added. “He has really never quit playing sports. It’s always been one after the other.”
Kolton managed to keep high grades taking on the challenges of playing multiple sports for the Cardinals.
“Those other sports I like to do because I felt I could be a help,” Childress said. “Coach (Will)Wolfe came to me and said you should play football. But baseball has always been a love to me.
“I had fun in basketball and I improved a lot this past basketball season under Coach (Stan) Gatlin,” he continued. “ I thought about what could happen if I tried to play basketball. But I really think baseball is for me. That’s why I didn’t play football this season so I could get better at baseball.”
Kolton will not be the only one benefiting from the extra time dedicated to the mound, the field and plate. Brighton’s new Skipper Michael Wickersham will depend on Childress this preseason to help the team with the transition to a new era of Cardinal Baseball.
“That’s the main thing I’ve been doing since I got here,” Wickersham said. “Building a relationship with the guys. And it’s been a really special ordeal for me. He’s a great kid and a very special kid. I hate I’ll only get one year to coach him.
“It’s a relationship we’re building now and that will last forever,” he added. “I couldn’t be any prouder of him and the other seniors who are signing this year. This is what it is all about. This is why I coach.”
Wickersham is familiar with the skills of Childress and can’t wait to utilize them.
“Kolton is probably the best athlete in the school,” he said. “He could probably do anything. The things that he can do on the football field and the basketball court, I already have witnessed what he can do on the baseball field. I coached against him. Now he’s on my side. That’s a good thing to know when you walk off the bus he’s on your side.”
Travis said the boy who grew up eating cereal all the time is a good teammate and person.
“He’s a really mature person and is self-motivated,” he said. “He makes mostly straight A’s on things. I don’t even know how he does it. He plays sports all the time but comes home and gets his work done. We’re really, really proud of him. This day is validation for him.
Kolton has reached the dream that started when he was 8 years old. And the boy who ate his Wheaties said it also took a village of caring people to help him grow and reach this point.
“I’ve been working very hard since my freshman year to get this dream of being a college baseball player,” he said. “And I will continue to work hard.
“My family helped me get here,” Kolton concluded. “And I had a lot of family helped me get here today. I strived to be better than my big brother. My family pushed me a lot.”