AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) – Sitting hundreds of yards off I-69 in DeKalb County lies the former home of Jim Stahl and his daughter, Diane. A spacious barn bordered by gravel roads, a giant rock is planted in front of the house next to some farming equipment.
Diane has fond memories of playing on that rock during her childhood. Years later, as a mother of four children, Diane brought her triplets back to that barn – to the same rock she played with as a kid. The third triplet, Grant, sat on that rock while posing for a picture alongside his brother and sister.
Diane’s children may have grown up in California, but they were raised almost as if they were Hoosiers themselves.
“We still ate dinners together as a family every single night,” Diane said. “We brought that midwestern value system back here in California.”
Fast forward to 2023, and Grant is about to play in the biggest football game of his life with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Last year’s Super Bowl saw a fair amount of Fort Wayne flavor. Former Homestead High School standout Ben Skowronek hoisted the Lombardi Trophy with the Los Angeles Rams after beating the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20. On the losing end was Snider alum Jessie Bates, who came one win shy of returning to the Super Bowl this season.
Northeast Indiana won’t be represented when the Philadelphia Eagles meet the Kansas City Chiefs at State Farm Stadium on Sunday. However, the family tree of Eagles’ rookie tight end Grant Calcaterra has roots that branch all the way out to DeKalb County.
Diane Calcaterra, a DeKalb High School grad, was a former athlete herself when she competed on the Barons’ track team. At one point, Diane claimed a school record in the 400-meter run. After graduating from DeKalb, Diane married and gave birth to the triplets in Cincinnati. The Calcaterra family would then move to southern California, where Diane still lives today.
Meanwhile, Stahl still lives in northeast Indiana at a farm in Kendallville. He’s kept in touch with his grandchildren over the years, attending Grant’s games when he played high school and college football.
“He was exceptionally talented at the time, and I knew his passion was to make something of himself in the NFL,” Stahl said.
Grant’s football journey hasn’t been straight line to success. Throughout his first three years of college football at Oklahoma, Grant suffered multiple concussions. The head injuries prompted the promising tight end to briefly retire in 2020.
Grant’s hiatus didn’t last long, as Calcaterra had the urge to return to the game he loved. His family was supportive along the way.
“He went at it full speed,” Diane reflected. “Most things in life do take time and it’s not a straight curve to success. Grant’s story is no different from a lot of other people’s.”
Grant used his last season of college eligibility at SMU, tallying 38 catches for 465 yards and four touchdowns.
Last April, Grant received the call that many athletes dream of – a chance to play in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. Calcaterra was selected with the 198th overall pick in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.
The rookie only has five regular season catches, but he has made several contributions on special teams. Calcaterra even earned a pair of game balls throughout the season for his work within that unit.
In the meantime, Calcaterra’s family has soaked Grant’s one-in-a-million experience of playing in the NFL.
“The whole experience has been incredibly exciting, anxious at times, but we feel so blessed, because he’s living his dream,” Diane said.
“Here’s his first year in the NFL, and he’s going to the Super Bowl,” Jim said. “I told him you’ve really done it up good.”
Diane looks forward to watching her son compete for a Super Bowl this Sunday in Glendale, Arizona, along with the rest of the Calcaterra family.
Stahl, however, is unable to make the trip to Glendale due to his health. While Grant’s grandfather may not make the trip to the big game, he will likely be the loudest Eagles fan in northeast Indiana come Super Bowl Sunday.