Steels all-round athlete
It was the year of the Polar Bear at Frost High School, where the football team and boys basketball team soared to new heights.
But it was also the year of Danial Steels, who soared higher than any athlete in the Golden Circle with an unforgettable year that saw Steels shine on the gridiron, the basketball court, the baseball diamond, the tennis court and on the track.
Oh yes, and while Steels was taking the fans’ breath away with moves in the open field and drives on the court, he was putting together a 4.0 GPA in the classroom.
He was an easy choice to win the 2012-2013 Daily Sun’s Golden Circle Community National Bank and Trust Male Athlete of the Year award.
Steels was named to the Class 1A first-team All-State football team and to the Class 1A first-team All-State basketball team, a rare feat that may not be repeated in this area for years.
He won the Daily Sun’s Mike Montfort Offensive MVP award in football while taking home the Daily Sun’s Golden Circle Player of the Year in basketball.
He qualified for the region tennis tournament and played on Frost’s baseball team, and then at the end of the school year, Steels qualified for five events in the region track & field meet, earned a trip to the Class 1A state track & field meet in two events, and took home fifth-place in the 100 meters, just to put a little frosting on an already spectacular cake.
And it did it all quietly.
There is no swag, no bravado to Steels, who plays the game with class and character and an old-school mentality.
“I can’t do that,’’ said Steels, who doesn’t understand why athletes showboat and hot-dog it on the field. “I’ve always been taught to talk on the field and on the court. I don’t celebrate or anything. It seems unnecessary. I just do my thing. I do what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s not a big show.’’
He did some fancy oration on the football field, gaining 1,878 yards and scoring 29 touchdowns while leading Frost to the Class 1A Division II Region finals, where the Polar Bears lost a heartbreaker, 34-30, to state finalist Tenaha, falling just two yards short as the clock ran out.
Steels never flaunted his ability to dominate a basketball game, and averaged 24 points and 10.8 rebounds per game while listening to a number of players get in his face and trash talk to him on the court. He simply never talked back.
“Some guys try to talk (trash) during football and in basketball,’’ Steels said. “It’s worse in basketball because the guy is guarding you and he has more time to talk to you. They try to get to you. I just don’t say anything.’’
Silent Steels, the Silent Killer.
“He never showed any emotion. He never let anything get to him. He is a humble kid,’’ said Eric Blendon, who coached Steels in football and basketball. “He’s a great athlete, but you would never know it by talking to him. He works hard and works a lot on his own time. He grew up a lot this year and became the total package as a leader. We could tell our younger kids, if you want to be like someone, be like Danial.’’
Blendon still is impressed with the fact Steels was so talented he made the all-state team in both football and basketball.
“As good as a football player as he was, he was even a better basketball player,’’ Blendon said. “He can back up and hit a 3 or he can go to the basket. He can do it all. He can go down low and guard someone who is six inches taller than he is or guard someone six inches shorter because he is so quick.’’
Possibly the greatest compliment to Steels is how other coaches felt about him.
“All the coaches would say, ‘Thank God he’s a senior,’ ’’ Blendon said with a laugh. “He’s a phenomenal athlete but you can hardly get him to say a word. You would go with him for a soda or something and he wouldn’t say five words the whole time.
“On the field he just gave us whatever we needed. If we needed three yards he got four. If we needed four yards he got five. He has a knack for doing whatever it takes, doing whatever we needed. He wasn’t the fastest player on the field and he wasn’t the strongest, but he had the combination and he had the drive to get it done.’’
His first love was basketball.
“I picked up a basketball when I was 4 years old, and loved it then,’’ Steels said. “It’s still my favorite sport, but my best memory of this year is the football team. We went 3-7 and then 5-5 my sophomore and junior years and I was always getting beat up. We didn’t win much, and this year we won so much and we were good. It was so much fun. Everything about this season was special, even the two-days. We had that feeling that something exciting was going to happen.’’
It did. The season was like no other.
“It’s my best memory because we turned everything around,’’ Steels said. “It was so much fun because everyone — the fans, everyone — had so much fun. It was special.’’
Steels didn’t even play football until he was 12, and still wears No. 12 to this day because of that. When he arrived in Frost from College Station in seventh grade, the coaches knew they had something special.
“I played in a football game in eighth grade and I carried the ball every time except twice,’’ Steels said. “I gained over 250 yards or something like that and I was exhausted.’’
He loves both sports, and that’s one of the many reasons Steels decided to accept a scholarship to Prairie View A&M. He wanted to make sure wherever he went to college that he could play football and basketball.
No problem. He got exactly what he wanted.
More importantly, Steels liked the engineering program.
“I liked the campus and liked everything about the school,’’ Steels said. “And I liked their engineering program. That was important to me.’’
He plans on becoming an electrical engineer — just like his grandfather.
“He’s a great kid,’’ Blendon said. “He’s very smart, very ambitious.’’
Steels, the silent Steeles, laughed and talked and was at ease during his interview with the Daily Sun. He joked about how his younger sister does all the talking in the family, and that’s why he’s so quiet. He poured his heart out talking about the bitter loss to Tenaha and looked back and embraced his senior year, and everything it meant to him.
“It was such a special year,’’ he said, his voice dropping a bit as he looked back. “A real special year.’’
It was the year of the Polar Bear — the year of Danial Steels.