The Dear family (inset) Maya, Paul, Calsher, Cherie, Harry and Nate, and Calsher in action during the 2023 Coates Talent League Boys match between the Western Jets and the Sandringham Dragons. Pictures: AFL Photos and supplied

CALSHER Dear has never taken anything for granted. 

The 18-year-old, who is set to land at Hawthorn as a father-son selection in this week's AFL Draft, is the son of late Hawks premiership player and 1991 Norm Smith medallist, Paul.

The Dears lives were turned upside down when Paul was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer in September 2020. 

"You have to enjoy every minute you have with someone and make the most of every opportunity you get," Dear said. 

"I'd never heard of [pancreatic cancer] before and no one else really had either.

"When you hear that, straight away you go to Google and when you search it up, nothing you see is positive."

Pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates out of all the major cancers - it is estimated that just one in 10 people will survive five-years post-diagnosis. 

After Paul's diagnosis the family set up 'Dare to Hope', a foundation that aims to improve awareness and education around pancreatic cancer, as well as funding research for innovative treatments to better treat the disease. 

"When it happened, Mum and Dad wanted to do something about it. They didn't want to just sit back and watch," he said.

"Dare to Hope raises money and awareness around pancreatic cancer, but it's also about Dad's attitude on life.  

"He didn't want to take his diagnosis lying down, he wanted to be up and doing something and fighting."

The Dear family (L-R) Maya, Paul, Calsher, Cherie, Harry and Nate. Picture: Supplied

Calsher is one of four children in the sporting family. His eldest brother, Harry, was drafted by the Adelaide Crows back in 2014, while Nate and Maya are both strong athletes in their own right.

Paul's cancer battle was a trying time for Dear, who was just a teenager when his Dad was going through the various treatments. 

"It was very difficult," he said. "The way Dad had his attitude towards it all, the biggest thing was that we didn't get to use it as an excuse. 

"He kept fighting and we couldn't be sad around him, if he was able to keep a straight face as the one going through it all, we had to try and do that as well."

Dear says his parents were crucial in teaching him about hard work and a strong mindset, traits that have held him in good stead throughout his draft year. 

"His biggest message to me was 'once you commit to something, you're 100 per cent committed and you're not slacking off'," he said.

"If any of us kids wanted to do something, Mum and Dad have done whatever they can to get us there and give us the best opportunity possible."

Paul Dear (centre) with his wife Cherie and children Nate, Harry, Maya, and Calsher. Picture: Supplied

The Beaumaris Football Club has also been a big part of Dear's life.  

He remembers growing up, heading down with his parents to watch Harry's games and trying to be involved with the big kids when Nate started Auskick. 

"I always loved having someone to go and do something with, but it wasn't just footy either, we got around basketball and other sports as well," Dear said. 

"Dad wasn't real big on talking about his career after he finished, he never really brought it up but he'd always be there supporting us.

"I remember just kicking the ball with him at quarter-time of my brother's games, those memories are really special."

Dear had the opportunity to play with Nate at Beaumaris this season in between his Coates Talent League commitments with Sandringham Dragons, and credits his junior football club as a key factor in his footy development. 

"The banter before the games between Nate and I about who's going to kick more goals is a lot of fun," he said. 

"I've been at Beaumaris ever since I started playing footy. It's such a great program, lots of fun playing with my mates, it's such a great culture."

Dear's season started somewhat slowly at the Dragons, by his own admission, but once he got a taste for the pace of the Coates Talent League, he didn't look back. 

The tall forward/ruck booted 21 goals from 11 games and was one of the Dragons' best players throughout the finals series, with his Grand Final performance in particular catching the eyes of onlookers. 

Calsher Dear celebrates kicking a goal with a teammate during the 2023 Coates Talent League Grand Final between Sandringham Dragons and Eastern Ranges at Ikon Park. Picture: AFL Photos

Dear believes the Dragons' game against Tasmania was when it all started to come together. 

"At the start of the year I struggled a bit, I had a lot of moments here and there where I showed glimpses, but I think towards the end of the season it all started to click for me," he said.

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"I was playing more naturally, I was flying for grabs and taking them, I was kicking straighter. 

"I used that as my launchpad for the rest of the season, I really wanted to try and impact each game from all four quarters."


Despite losing games in the lead-up to the finals series, Dear said the playing group never lost confidence they would go all the way to the premiership. 

"Everyone would have had their doubts on us when we lost those last two games, but everyone in the group knew we were talented and capable enough if we could get that chemistry going," he said.  

"It was great to see the whole season's work come together in the end."

Another highlight of Dear's season was the Dare to Hope match, when Dragons players wore purple socks and helped to raise funds for the campaign. 

Hawthorn also hosted a Dare to Hope match in its round 16 clash with Carlton.  

Calsher Dear (second from right) with his mum Cherie (right) and siblings Harry, Maya and Nate ahead of the Dare to Hope Match at the MCG. Picture: Supplied

"Family means everything to me," Dear said. "Especially recently, you can't really take anyone or anything for granted.

"It was amazing to have that support, the best thing when you're going through difficult times is knowing you have people around you.  

"Especially when it's a club that I've been training with three or four times a week, to know that they are not just there for the footy side of things, but they also support their players off the field was unreal. To have all the boys get around it was such a great feeling."

Sandringham Dragons head coach Rob Harding agreed that Dear's consistency within games grew as the season wore on. 

"He's got a lot of natural talent, a lot of natural athleticism, but I thought it was the consistency within his game that really grew, particularly in the last month," Harding said. 

"He found his groove as a key forward who pinch hit in the ruck and he clearly had a big impact in that role, most notably in the Grand Final.

"I think Calsher's just scratching the surface of what he can do. 

"Off the field, Calsher's had to deal with an incredible amount and he's been a tremendous support for his family. 

"The way he's handled the circumstances of the last 18 months has been exceptional for a young man."

Calsher Dear in action during the 2023 Coates Talent League Boys match between the Western Jets and the Sandringham Dragons at DSV Stadium. Picture: AFL Photos

Dear said his Mum, Cherie, has been a rock in his life and believes she is one of the strongest people he knows. 

"She does everything she can for me, she'd get anyone she knew to help me and was at every single one of my games," he said. 

"She's such a strong woman, the way she's continued to push through after losing her husband and father to the same cancer in such a short space of time."

After a tumultuous few years, Calsher is finally going to get the chance to live out his boyhood dream of being an AFL footballer. 

As reported by last week, the Hawks have nominated Dear as a National Draft father-son. 

Dear says an opportunity to be on an AFL list "means everything" to him and believes his Dad would have been "unbelievably proud". 

"He'd be so happy for me, to see that all of the hard work has paid off," he said.  

"It means everything now because of the sentimental reasons, it's really special. 

"To know that I can follow in Dad's footsteps, to try and be a bit like the man he was"

It's time for the next Dear to make his own mark in the footy world.