WEST CALDWELL, NJ — James Caldwell High School (JCHS) senior Dean Caravela has been accepted by and signed a letter with the US Naval Academy. Caravela, a standout JCHS wrestler who recently earned his 100th win, will continue his wrestling career at the next level, competing for Navy.
Caravela said once he made an official visit to the academy and witnessed a day in the life of a midshipmen wrestler, he couldn’t wait to be one of them. The future Navy student said the academy is the best choice for his wrestling life, but is also honored to have the privilege of serving his country.
“I have always marveled the Navy as a kid,” said Caravela, whose college search consisted of D1 schools with good academics. “Navy wasn’t always my top choice, but honestly, you can never really have a top choice. The right school is out there somewhere, and if you put all of your eggs in one basket too early, you might miss it. I visited Navy and realized it had everything I was looking for.”
Thanking the coaches, who have each provided a unique way of coaching that contributed to his success, and his parents, who supported him every step of the way, Caravela said he is eager to learn more and ready to take on a new challenge.
“Wrestling has become my life,” said Caravela. “I put so much time and hard work into this sport and made a lot of sacrifices to try to make myself successful. It is more than just an extracurricular activity to me. I have had so much help along the way, and I can’t thank my coaches and family enough for that.”
JCHS Wrestling Coach Gary Garamella said Caravela works harder than anyone on the team during practice, consistently outwrestles his opponents, leads by example and has become a role model to the younger team members. Garamella described Caravela as a multi-sport athlete who has been focused and determined to achieve both his athletic and academic goals throughout his four years at JCHS.
"Deans' success is simple: hard work,” said Garamella. “We are very fortunate to have him in our program and the Naval Academy is very fortunate to have him next year.”
Caravela’s wrestling career took off quickly, when he achieved 35 wins as a freshman at JCHS, breaking a record set by his father, Tom Caravela, in 1986 for most wins in a single season. The future Navy wrestler became the first freshman in Caldwell to place in the top eight in the states.
Caravela also placed in the top eight during his sophomore year, and was on target to do the same in his junior year prior to a shoulder injury. The 149-lb senior hopes to return to his state spot for his senior year before joining the Division 1 Navy team.
“My dad has been the best supporter I can ask for,” said Caravela, who also thanked his mother and sister for lifting his spirits when it’s time to cut weight and motivating him every day. “Whether it’s moral support, or traveling across the country with me to compete in tournaments, or driving me to all these practices in the offseason, he was willing and happy to do it with me. My dad made this sport so much more enjoyable for me, and I thank God every day that I am able to have a father-son bond like no other.”