This is part of a weekly series introducing readers to individuals who are passionate about our Mid-Valley community.
Caleb Singleton enjoys helping young athletes improve, and he played a key role this past fall in helping the North Salem football team achieve statewide success.
In his second season as the Vikings’ defensive coordinator, Singleton guided one of the state’s best defenses in helping North Salem reach the Columbia Cup in its first season back at the Class 6A level.
“Very athletic group. What we did this season was spectacular,” Singleton said. “We couldn’t have done it without the kids’ hard work.”
Singleton also helped the Vikings’ track and field program last spring as the jumps coach, and he currently helps the West Salem girls basketball team as an assistant coach to his wife, Katie.
Caleb Singleton’s playing career
Singleton was a part of the first-ever freshman class at West Salem High School in 2002, and he was part of the school’s 2006 graduating class, the first class that went to the school all four years.
While with the Titans, Singleton competed in football, basketball and track and field.
Basketball was his first passion.
“I didn’t like to get hit. I would rather hit somebody rather than me catching the ball then getting hit,” Singleton said about why defensive back became his primary position. “So I developed that mentality of being the aggressor.”
In football, Singleton played for longtime coaches Shawn Stanley and Damien Ramirez.
Stanley remembers Singleton as an all-around athlete who could help the Titans in many ways.
“He’s one of my all-time favorite players,” Stanley said. “Basketball was his first love, but he gave football a try and he’s one of the best players we’ve had.”
After graduating from West Salem, Singleton played defensive back for the Western Oregon football team.
After competing for the Wolves and graduating from Western Oregon in 2011, Singleton spent time playing professional football in Poland.
Coming to North Salem
Singleton has been a teacher at Salem-Keizer Public Schools for eight years.
Before becoming a weight training teacher at North Salem, he was a physical education teacher at Scott Elementary School, health teacher at Judson Middle School, and physical education teacher at McNary and McKay high schools.
Prior to coaching with the Vikings, Singleton had assistant coaching stints at McKay, McNary and Western Oregon.
“I’ve known of him since he played at West Salem. I followed his career at Western Oregon, and I coached against him,” North Salem head football coach Jeff Flood said. “When the job opened up, I thought he was a guy we really needed to talk to about coaching on our staff.”
Singleton said he knew that he wanted to stay in the sports world after his playing career, and coaching has allowed him to do it.
“I always knew I wanted to give back and stay close to the game,” Singleton said. “So coaching and teaching was always something I wanted to do.”
Defense key to North Salem’s success
North Salem went 8-5 this season and made it to the Class 6A Columbia Cup final.
It was the Vikings’ first season back at 6A after spending four seasons at 5A.
A key to North Salem’s success was its defense, which held teams to 16.4 points per game.
“A lot of that success is the personnel, a lot of it is the scheme that utilizes that personnel,” Flood said. “When you have a defense that you know can stop other teams, that allows you to do some things offensively that aren’t conservative in nature. It really helped us do what we wanted to do offensively.”
The Vikings’ scoring defense ranked eighth in the state at the 6A level.
Flood said that Singleton is a strong coach in all areas of the job, including coaching the players, breaking down film and developing schemes.
“He’s good at all of it, and that’s what the position requires,” Flood said. “He’s great with the players. He has a knack for getting kids to want to play, and that’s so important as a coach.”
Erick Gonzalez, who was a senior defensive back and wide receiver in the fall, said Singleton is highly respected by the players on the team.
“Singleton coming in was so great for our program, not only is his understanding of the game of football so high, but the culture, energy, and motivation he brings to our program is something else,” Gonzalez said. “I personally became super close to him, and being took under his wing as a player was the best experience I had with a coach as a player. There is truly no coach like him, and the respect the team has for him is at another level.”
For Singleton, his passion for sports and the Salem-Keizer community has never been stronger, and he enjoys being able to give back every day.
“I’ve been a Salem kid through and through,” he said. “Giving back through teaching and coaching has been a true blessing for me.”
If you have an idea for someone we should profile for this series, email Statesman Journal senior news editor Alia Beard Rau at email@example.com.
Statesman Journal reporter Pete Martini covers college and high school sports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.