By John Goolsby
There was never a question that Malique Steele would be a Shades Valley athlete. His mother and his three uncles all played sports at Valley. “It was always in his blood,” said his mother, Kim Steele.
Kim Steele was a standout player on the Shades Valley varsity basketball team for four years. “I was a point guard, and she dominated the post position…strong in the paint,” said Steele’s teammate, Maribeth Butts. “I’d pass her the ball, and she had no fear in taking it to the basket…she was awesome.”
Malique Steele showed his mom’s same fearless attitude early on. In his first year playing football as a 6th grader, he suffered a severe injury going for a touchdown. “He broke his humerus, which caused a lot of tissue damage to his shoulder,” his mom said. “They had to place pins in his arm to hold the bone together so it could heal.”
That setback didn’t slow Steele down. He rebounded from the early injury and hasn’t looked back. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound Steele is a talented athlete that plays football, wrestles, and runs track. He made it to the State wrestling championship in the 182 pound weight class and to Sectionals in the 400 meters.
Steele, a hybrid defensive back-linebacker, is a long, rangy player with the athleticism to play on the offensive side of the ball as a receiver.
Steele went to camps this past summer at Austin Peay and Samford. He officially visited Lindsey Wilson College and will go back to watch a game this fall. Charlotte has shown interest as well.
“I think I can play any skill position,” said Steele. “I don’t prefer any position; as long as I get to play football, it doesn’t matter what position I play.” Steele’s frame and athleticism give him options at the next level. “They may keep me at defensive back, or they might make me put on 20 pounds and make me play outside linebacker,” he said.
Steele’s play over the summer earned the respect of Mountie quarterback Steve Brown. “Malique has good instincts for the ball,” Brown said. “When he sees the ball, he’s going to get it.”
Steele, now playing under his third head coach in four years, understands his role as a team leader. “My goal for this year is to win State, but I’m pretty sure that’s everybody’s goal,” he said. “If we don’t win State, I want to make sure I have prepared and made the underclassmen better so they can win State next year.”
While Steele has his priorities straight as a team leader, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have personal goals. “My personal goals are to have a 100-plus tackle season, 10-plus sacks, 5- plus interceptions, 20-plus tackles for loss, 5- plus touchdowns, and 15-plus receptions.
Defensive Coordinator Kordell Jackson is high on Steele. “Malique is a good football player with the potential to play at the college level,” he said. “I am excited to see him reach his potential this season and become a big-time player for the defense.”
Steele wants his legacy at Shades Valley to be that of building a foundation for the future of Mountie football. “I want to be remembered as a team member that turned the Shades Valley culture around and put the program on the good track; the way they used to be,” he said.