Every graduating high school student takes memories along with them, but for Keller resident Caroline Dale, her mental yearbook might need more than one volume. The Fort Worth Christian grad and four-year softball letterman is off to college with a fairly extensive collection of awards, rings and crowns.
Dale transferred to Fort Worth Christian from South Keller Intermediate during sixth grade. As a freshman, she earned a spot on the varsity softball team. Dale had played softball since the age of eight, and Cardinals coach Michelle Yarbrough saw something in her immediately.
“She’s a hard worker and came to us having knowledge of the game already,” Yarbrough said. “That year was a big year where we needed her to put the ball in play. Every time we needed her to she did. That earned her the spot. Every time we needed Caroline to make a play for us she did.”
Dale and her teammates made enough plays to win a TAPPS state title that year.
“I was the only freshman who played in the game, so that was cool. But it was also nerve-racking,” Dale said. “Afterward, it was so exciting because we got rings and medals. It was really a cool experience.”
It was also after that experience that Dale realized she had a greater role to play for the Cardinals.
“After that game I realized I had a leadership role for the next three years,” she said. “I considered myself one of the biggest leaders on the team my junior and senior year.”
Following the state championship run, Yarbrough moved Dale to the critical shortstop position, and also watched her develop into the leader that Caroline had set out to become.
“She really owned the position and took the time to learn all that she needed to know about it in order to be a big leader for us,” Yarbrough said. “Not only on the infield but the whole team. She really tried to embrace all the younger ones and even the older ones, and make sure that everybody stayed together as a team and that we didn’t lose focus on why we were out there and what our goals were.”
Dale and her teammates made another march to the TAPPS state tournament in 2013, her junior year, falling one game short with a loss in the state title game. But it was also during that year Dale decided on her future. As a student with primarily B grades, Caroline realized she would need to improve in the classroom in order to pursue the career she wanted.
“When I decided to pursue nursing, I realized it’s a very competitive field and you have to have the grades or you won’t get accepted into the good programs,” she said. “So I just spent more time studying and preparing myself for tests and it really changed my grades a lot. I was making B’s, and then ever since my junior year I made straight A’s, so that was really exciting.”
Like every senior, Dale was hoping to make her senior year a memorable one. It got off to a good start in the fall, when she was voted Homecoming Queen.
“I didn’t really see that coming, but was very honored that my classmates and friends picked me for that. It was really, really exciting,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. It was just shock. One of my really good friends was chosen king. He was excited and shocked, too, so it was a lot fun.”
Dale also went on to have another solid softball season. Though there would be no swan song in the state tournament, she was named to the all-district first team after leading the Cardinals in RBIs, runs, hits, batting average (.506) and stolen bases. But all the while, she was keeping her grades for another year on the A honor roll and was elected to the National Honor Society.
But she wasn’t finished yet; one more surprise was still in store. At the junior/senior prom in May, Dale was named prom queen.
“In a way, it was more shocking [than winning Homecoming Queen] because I thought that, ‘Oh, she’s already had a turn so let’s let someone else have the opportunity to win something like that,’ so I didn’t even know what to say. It was awesome.”
So after an eventful high school softball career and a memorable senior year, Dale is off to Texas A&M in the fall to study nursing – drawn to College Station by the program, the traditions, and an assist from her father, an Aggie alum. But Dale won’t be taking the field in College Station. She insists her playing days are over.
“To try to play softball, I wouldn’t have as much time to be studying or preparing for all the clinicals and tests and such,” Dale said.
“I love to see any of our kids, but especially her [earn that kind of recognition],” Yarbrough said. “After being there and working so hard for you for four years, you love to see them rewarded by their peers and the staff and the school – not just in sports, but just in life. So it was absolutely exciting to watch her win some awards and be honored for the person she is.”
And it’s being the person she is that earned the respect and admiration of her high school classmates. Dale hopes that transfers over to her new classmates in College Station.
“I just like treating other people the way I want to be treated and being nice to everybody,” she said. “I try to look at the positive sides of things instead of dwelling everything that wrong with the world.”