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LCHS Bulldawg earns 2023 Spirit of the Sport Award


Caleb Lewis, a junior at Las Cruces High School, has been selected as the recipient of the 2023 New Mexico Activities Association Spirit of Sport Award.

The NMAA Spirit of Sport Award was created by the association to recognize individuals who exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represent the core mission of education-based athletics.

Two years ago, Lewis fell into the water while riding a wakeboard at the lake. He appeared okay at the time, but it wasn’t until the next day when his fall became near fatal. It turns out the force of hitting his head on the water caused internal bleeding he was unaware of at the time.

“We get to the ER and they’re saying, ‘You’re in really big trouble,’” Lewis said.  “For a while we didn’t know if I was going to be all right.”

Officially, he suffered an epidural hematoma, which means he had bleeding between the skull and the brain. A craniotomy was required, and a titanium plate was placed in his skull. In his hospital bed, Lewis was now being told about how his vision, speech and mobility could be affected.

“They told us post-surgery, 6-to-9 months before his speech will regulate and it could be 6-to-9 months before his gait regulates and he can walk regularly,” his mother Christy said.

“They told me the worst,” said Lewis. “They told me I would have seizures, that I would possibly have a lot of learning issues and that there was no shot at ever playing football.”

“That just wasn’t going to be acceptable for Caleb,” Christy said.

Giving up an active lifestyle was not an option for Lewis. After extensive rehab and testing, Caleb was finally cleared to participate in athletics. Caleb convinced his mom his passion and focus was to play football again.

“I just fell in love with the process and the way everything worked here with Las Cruces football and I wasn’t going to let that go,” Lewis said.

“When they told him there was a possibility he wasn’t going to play, he wasn’t going to have it,” said Christy.

“It was the mom that told us, ‘Coach, it’s going to hurt him more mentally if he can’t play more than anything that will hurt him if he came back and played,’” said LCHS head coach Mark Lopez. “That opened my eyes that we’ve got to find a way to do this, and we have to find the best way. We have to get him in the best scenario we can, from a contact perspective, to a helmet perspective, and from that point on, all the focus was on how can we get this kid back and how can we help him be a part of this.”

Through hard work, will and relentless perseverance, Lewis is the Bulldawgs’ starting defensive end, playing without hesitation.

“We have a ‘Be Strong’ mentality here,” Lopez said. “It’s our core values and what we do here. The R stands for Relentless Perseverance. To me, that’s what Caleb is. He is just relentless in what he does.”

“You can be in such a low place, but if you just work every day, you can get back to wherever you would like to be,” Lewis said.

A video and story recognizing this amazing student-athlete can be accessed from the NMAA website at https://youtu.be/LVRxJsxkEak