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Press Box


Sunday, June 24, 2001

Damien’s destiny
was to slay Goliath

I know what it's like to be deprived of destiny.

When I played football for Damien Memorial High School in 1995, we were like most Monarch teams. We had occasional bright spots, but we mostly lost.

We did, however, endure turmoil few teams ever see. Our coach was being criticized for being too strict. We didn't understand why.

While it was a tough experience, it brought us together. It was a classic case of us against the world.

By midseason, we were, as they say, jelling. Practices were beginning to get fierce. Spontaneous team huddles resulted in shouts, and even tears.

All the frustration that was pent up from the prospect of losing our coach resulted in an even higher resolve to finally beat the team that had knocked us around -- literally -- since before we could remember: St. Louis.

We were destined to beat them. We knew it.

When game day came, ominous clouds blanketed the sky. It could only have meant one thing -- destiny would have its way.

I couldn't believe it when I found out what that destiny was.

We boarded the bus and arrived at the field.


We exited the bus, got onto the field, and warmed up.

Rain. Lightning.

A canceled game.

Destiny deprived.

SO TO ALL OF YOU at Damien now, I've been there. I know what that feeling is like -- that the next time you go out on that field you'll prove everybody wrong, and that countless years of prep football dominance means nothing when it's just you against them.

I know what it's like when no one believes that you just might pull off the impossible.

And I know what it's like to have your destiny withheld, through no fault of your own.

But I also know what it's like to be on the wrong end of infinity-to-nothing.

I've experienced that exact moment -- when your heart falls down into the burning pit of your stomach and all of your excitement is drained after three quick first-quarter touchdowns.

I've watched teammates whom I've admired and respected get their facemasks fed to them.

I've been humiliated.

And as you Damien players well know, it's not fun. I would not wish that on my worst enemies -- or even St. Louis.

So know this: While it might seem like Damien's administration is selling you short and that it doesn't believe in you, Damien is not a school of cowards, no matter what anybody says.

The last thing I expect any of you to do is roll over and say, "Hey, it was a great idea to forfeit. We're not good enough to play St. Louis, anyway."

But understand that this was done for the good of everyone in high school sports.

You are the ones no longer putting up with a ridiculous system. You are the ones taking a stand, forcing the hand of a league that has condoned massacre after massacre for years.

What you are doing is bigger than any win over St. Louis could ever be.

You have fulfilled your destiny.

Ben Henry can be reached at

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