Along with the other members of the Erskine College Class of 2021, Caleb Shackleford is getting ready to graduate. A six-foot-five forward on the Men’s Basketball Team, he is a Business Administration major who has participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
Caleb took some time recently to reflect on how he got to Erskine, what his college years have been like, and what he’ll do after commencement.
“What drew me to Erskine was the campus and the Christian community,” he recalls. “My faith is important to me and I knew that I would be around like-minded students at Erskine. I liked the beautiful campus. I also became really good friends with some of the basketball players.”
He first heard about Erskine from students in his hometown, Lexington, South Carolina, where he attended Lexington High School. He began considering the Due West school as part of his college search when Drew Wallace—a 2007 graduate then serving as a coach at his alma mater—spoke with him about playing basketball for the Fleet.
Caleb recognized what he wanted when he saw it. “Initially I wasn’t looking for a small Christian college, but once I visited, it felt like the right fit for me,” he says.
Choosing a major was relatively easy for Caleb, since he knew he wanted to go into business after college. He was unsure about “what aspect of business I wanted to pursue,” he says. “I talked to my family and decided accounting would be best for me because I enjoy math and I have a lot of family members who are accountants.”
Caleb is now completing his studies as a Business Administration major with a concentration in Accounting. He is also finishing up a minor in Information Technology.
Like most members of the Erskine College student body, Caleb is a scholarship recipient and is thankful for that assistance. “I have the Garnet Scholarship, the Gene Alexander Scholarship, the South Carolina Tuition Grant, and also the Flying Fleet Scholarship,” he says.
During his four years on the Erskine campus, he has enjoyed his involvement in FCA and his service on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which offers campus athletes a voice in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), including input on rules, regulations, and policies.
Caleb is glad he took the time to pursue this avenue of service. “SAAC has been a very beneficial organization because it has helped me build certain leadership skills and help solve problems that student athletes face every day,” he says.
Former basketball coach Drew Wallace, now Associate Athletic Director for Operations and External Relations at Erskine, describes Caleb’s SAAC role. “He has represented Erskine at NCAA leadership conferences every year as well as Conference Carolinas meetings,” he says. “They met regularly to discuss NCAA regulations and ways they can impact their team and campus.”
Director of Athletics Mark Peeler, who has led an emphasis on “Christ-centered, competitive, and community-focused” athletics at Erskine—a formula he calls “the Fleet Way”—values Caleb’s contributions to campus life. As part of the 2020 Fleety Awards, Caleb received the Sonny Rhem Award for community service.
“Caleb is just a fine young man,” Peeler says. “He has a great personality and has been an important four-year player on the men’s basketball team. He is highly involved in the life of Erskine. He is a tremendous representative of Erskine athletics and the college.”
Looking back on his college experience, Caleb believes both Wallace and Peeler have served as important examples for him.
“Coach Peeler and Coach Wallace have been great mentors to me during my time at Erskine,” he says. “They are selfless leaders and passionate about Erskine athletics. I have learned a lot by watching them work every day and seeing how they honor God with their work.”
What’s next for Caleb Shackleford? “After graduation I will be working at Dominion Energy as an associate accountant in Columbia, South Carolina,” he says.
As he moves into his profession, Caleb will use knowledge he has acquired in the classroom. Like generations of alumni, he will also carry with him inspiration and leadership experience gained at Erskine College.