“Agent 0” Scores Big For Sparkman; Lightford Leads Senators Run Among Top 10 In Alabama
HARVEST- On any given day Calen Lightford can be found inside Sparkman High’s gymnasium usually with a basketball in his hands. Parked outside in the school parking lot, his burgundy color Jeep Wrangler with a personalized car tag of “Agent 0” easily gives away his whereabouts. On the basketball court, he’s even more visible and easily recognized as one of the star performers for the Class 7A sixth-ranked Senators.
Donning the number “0” on his jersey, Lightford is nicknamed “Agent 0” and has carved out an outstanding career for Sparkman where he began playing varsity as a freshman. He had a breakout game during that season and he knew right away his future was set.
“At that moment in that one game I knew I could play and contribute to our team,” said Lightford, the 5-foot-11, 160-pound guard.
As the second half of the 2021-2022 season tips off, Sparkman is 16-4 and is coming off a huge Christmas tournament performance as it defeated No. 1 ranked Grissom 62-53 to capture the annual Huntsville City Classic for the first time since 2005. Lightford did not play in the 39th annual event due to a week-long illness. He currently is averaging 17 points per game and just prior to the Christmas break in the N2HOOPS Invitational at Bob Jones he joined the elite 1,000-point club, becoming just third player to do so under the tenure of head coach Jamie Coggins.
Despite now being heavily recruited with schools including Alabama A&M, Delta State, Cleveland State, Freed-Hardeman and others vying for his basketball gifts, his talents weren’t always well thought of.
“I wasn’t one of the best players when I was young as I was the last one chosen in pick-up games and the last one to come off the bench during organized team play,” said Lightford. “That all changed in the eighth grade at Monrovia Middle School. My coach since third grade, Kelly McCarty, who owns Uwin Training, kept working with me. I wasn’t quick to get the results, but when those results showed up I saw I could do something with basketball.”
Upon arriving at Sparkman he played on the junior varsity squad during summer workouts and soon realized he had to improve. He had to become stronger and faster. He reached out to longtime personal trainer Dallas Terrell who owns N2-SPRT. Lightford said he went through two years of intense workouts and lots of reps in weights and cardio training under Terrell. The hard work has paid off.
“I feel I’m fast-paced, can shoot threes, play good defense, play hard throughout the game and I’m very poised on the court,” said Lightford of his self-description. “I usually have an expression-less face throughout the game as I’m silent and offer no trash talking.”
As a young boy growing up in Harvest he participated in soccer, karate, boxing and basketball. He awoke one morning and couldn’t breathe. His parents, Cardell and Stephanie Lightford, rushed him to the emergency room where he was given breathing treatments as he diagnosed with asthma. He carries with him an inhaler and uses that device just before each game.
During the off season he plays travel ball with Team Pro 1 based in Huntsville and spends limited time on his hobby of playing video games. To show he’s an even more-rounded athlete, Lightford said he can bowl very well.
When not in the gym, the 17-year old Lightford has been seen walking down neighborhood streets dribbling a basketball or in his driveway shooting hoops. He carries a 3.9 grade point average and has planned on studying sports management in college. To what college will he attend to earn that degree by way of playing basketball? He has not committed to a school and will take his time on his decision. He’ll turn 18 years of age in February at about the time he hopes his team will be advancing in the post season playoffs.
In the meantime, Lightford is savoring his play as a senior member of the explosive squad at Sparkman and being among the elite in the program’s history and carrying the nickname of “Agent 0.”
“Scoring to that level was a blessing and I was shocked when I found out,” said Lightford. “I was speechless. Growing up seeing Sparkman play, being among the 1,000-point club was the last thing I thought I do.”