Royals Athlete Of The Week: Tariq Caldwell

Royals Athlete Of The Week: Tariq Caldwell

“This was the first time I had to be a captain since high school so I wanted to really lead by example. I always said ‘what would a typical captain do?’, like no days off, no short-cuts, stuff like that.”

Tariq Caldwell (Richmond, Va./Lee-Davis) is a fifth-year senior coming into his own on the basketball court, both as a captain and a starter. He notched his first two career double doubles last week, averaging 13.0 points and 14.5 rebounds to push EMU to a pair of ODAC wins. Tariq also broke his career high in rebounds. Twice.

Head Coach Melvin Felix has noticed marked improvement.

“Tariq has come a long way from his freshman year,” said Coach Felix. “Not only has he grown as a player, but more importantly as a person. He is a crucial piece to the team - he brings energy and effort every play and has been a great leader as a captain this season."

The beginning of the season was difficult for Tariq, but he put his faith in God and tried to be patient.

“Ever since high school I always believed that God has a plan, so I just knew that if I kept working it would eventually work out,” he explained. “Now I feel like I’m in a rhythm. At the beginning of the season, I felt like I wasn’t really in a rhythm. Because this is a new role for me, a new position, so now I’m getting more comfortable.”

Tariq has had a unique journey with basketball.

“I tried out for basketball 6th through 10th grade, and I got cut every year,” he said.  “And then summer going into 11th grade I grew like 8 inches and I lost a lot of weight as well, and so we got a new coach at high school, and he was like ‘you should come play. You should’ve played last year.’”

Then he came to EMU, where he played a total of two minutes his first year. After playing a bit more his sophomore year, he lost his entire third season to an injury.

“And throughout my rehab with my injury I just got to a point where I didn’t even know if I wanted to play basketball anymore, or could play basketball anymore,” Tariq said.

But he kept working and came back for his last two seasons with the Runnin Royals, and now he has some advice for young players.

“Just stay patient,” Tariq said. “I think a lot of players, they were the best players in their school, so they come in expecting to play and if they don’t play they get frustrated. But if you keep putting the time in, everything will work out.”

He reflected on his own journey, adding, “When I look back, I’m just happy to see how far I’ve come, really. I’ve changed a lot, maturity-wise, on the court, off the court. My game has improved a lot, I think.”

Tariq is a business administration major.

“After I graduate I would like to go to school for fashion design,” he said. “I would like to design sneakers...I looked at a school in San Diego, a school in Ohio, and New York. I really want to go to San Diego, though. The weather’s nice.”

Until then, Tariq will enjoy his last season of basketball.

“I’m a competitor, I love competing against people. And something about winning feels great, I can never get enough. And so that’s what keeps me motivated every day in practice and games, because my ultimate goal is to win the championship.”

--- by Elizabeth Nisly, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern