Ross Dember and Alex Schroeder | Five-feet nothing
Take it to the house
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 02:10
There is almost no time better than now to be trying to stir up memories of childhood sports days. The NFL season is now five weeks in, the MLB playoffs are intensifying as the ALCS and NLCS games are being finalized and the NHL is back underway. I have plenty of inspiration to look to for the next story from my youth.
I was always a soccer player growing up, starting the sport as early as three or four years old. The game wasn’t very pretty at that age. It was just one huge clump; an almost homogeneous mix of two different colored teams, each person huddled around the ball trying to get a foot on it.
By the time I was 11 or 12 though, I took a break from the maybe-not-so-beautiful game of soccer and turned to a sport my younger brother had already started playing: our American version of football.
Anyone who knows me probably also knows I’m not exactly built for football.
No matter your position, size is a crucial part of the 100-percent contact sport. My frame just really isn’t there.
However, it was still a youth league, and I could still compete. A spot on the offensive or defensive line just wasn’t in the cards for me, so instead I tried my hand at a spot in the backfield. I wasn’t the fastest kid either, but I had a good eye for following blockers, and I got to take a fair amount of snaps in practice.
Only a couple of memories stand out after playing football for just three years in my life, twice before high school and then once my freshman year. Here’s the glory of my younger days in the sport.
It was my first year in the league and my Stonington junior pee-wee football team was on the road for a preseason scrimmage in Rhode Island at Bryant University. It was a friendly game meant for practice and preparation, the score wasn’t really kept and kids who didn’t play all that much got their feet wet on the field.
I was more or less one of those kids, at least on the offensive side of the ball. I remember I got some reps at running back this game, one of which turned into the longest run I’ve ever had.
We ran an offensive set where two running backs line up about three yards behind the quarterback offset to the right and left of him. I was lined up on the left, and another player was lined up on the right. The way the play is designed is that I come across, following the other running back, receive the handoff and look for the hole between the right guard and right tackle.
I did this, following the play exactly, but after crossing the line of scrimmage, I saw my opportunity to bust the play open.
I cut the play back, planting off of my right foot and exploding back towards the left side of the field while everyone else was pushing right. I can still see the opposing linebackers being left behind as I turn the play to the other side of the field and take off. There was no one behind me; I was as free as I’d ever be on a football field. I remember thinking if I should just slow down to stop the play since it wasn’t going to count for a real game score.
But I didn’t. I kept the pace and reached the end zone with no one within 20 yards of me. After having outsmarted everyone, and having had that one moment where you’re gone, off to the races and headed for the end zone, I turned, jogged back to give the ref the ball and headed to the sidelines for the defense to come on.
Ross Dember and Alex Schroeder are both sophomores who have yet to declare majors. Ross can be reached at Ross.Dember@tufts.edu, and Alex can be reached at Alexander.Schroeder@tufts.edu.