I should have been more focused on the game, but it was eating away at me. I felt like I had to tell them.
As I put my pads on I thought over and over how I should tell them. The important thing was that I wanted to tell them.
As everyone waited in the locker room, the time before the Avon game seemed to slowly tick away.
I asked the other captains if they wanted to say anything to the team before the game, but they said that they didn’t.
I called the team together. First, I told them that we had a game to focus on. Then, they gave me their undivided attention, and I was ready to tell them the news that had been eating away at me.
This past September, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer, and within a few days I made the decision to tell the entire jv football team.
You know how sometimes silence has a sound? That’s what it was like when the team walked two-by-two down to the field.
On that day our team changed from a bunch of guys playing football to my friends playing as a unit.
When I tell people about my father, most people say how sorry they are and that “they’ll always be there to talk.” They all mean well, but it’s a stock response.
After I told them in the locker room that day, my teammates said similar things to me, but many went deeper and opened up to me about their own personal experiences. From them I have gotten the most genuine responses.
While we were waiting on the field for Avon to arrive, a teammate pulled me aside and told me that last Christmas his father had gotten the exact same diagnosis. He started to cry as we talked on the sideline.
His father was just finishing up chemotherapy treatment. He said that I had done the right thing by telling people. The one mistake he had made was not telling anyone for months about his father and letting it build up inside him.
I don’t know what other people were thinking about during that game, but all I tried to do was play my best. We lost the game 18-6 but I wasn’t too upset about that. I was more relieved that I was able to tell them face-to-face.
Why I made this decision to tell them is tough to answer. That whole week was a haze, but I knew that I wanted them to know. Rather, they deserved to know. I trusted them.
Maybe it was just to lift the burden off myself and to tell somebody who might understand.
Maybe I felt that they were some of the people that I was closest to at the school.
Memories are made on our field. We’ll always remember Tommy Walker’s interception, John Jackson seemingly running through entire opposing teams, Jack Shumway wanting to show off his track skills, and Joe Sullivan always being late.
I’ll always remember jv football at Deerfield Academy. But what I’ll remember the most about football is the friendship and support the team game me, both on and off the field.