From the Hoss Martin Archives: Saturday, September 12, 2015
While most of the nation’s commemoration for the victims and survivors of the day that will live in infamy with regards to the New Millennium from September 11, 2015, a picturesque, serotinal day was taking place on the campus of the Hampton High School Hornets in Hampton, Georgia. The sunlight sky was blue (from the way that our eyes interpret it) with sporadic wispiness of clouds that resembled cotton candy.
There was a sizable klatch of spectators who were participating in tailgate type of festivities like the Partner’s Club where high school students sold barbeque dinners to arriving football fans in an endeavor to raise money for children with disabilities. Suddenly, the marching band began to walk amain the short distance to the stadium where their Hornets Varsity Football Team were already on the field preparing for the visiting Riverdale High School Raiders.
The backdrop for a Friday evening high school football game in the South may not have seemed epochal to anyone who happened to visit until one observed a small film crew capturing virtually every movement of a remarkable young student athlete. His name was, Devon Berry, a senior at Hampton High School who has excelled at football (he is a captain), wrestling, and basketball; he has also been challenged with Cerebral Palsy.
As the game commenced, Berry did not receive any playing time initially. Hampton’s program is still in its nascent stages of development since opening in 2014. Riverdale was far more experienced which was evident with their quick striking offense that generally amassed any yardage they wanted that resulted in two touchdowns at halftime.
Approximately seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, the public address announcer notified the crowd that number 62 Devon Berry was entering the game. The home fans cheered ecstatically as the young man used his arms to blitz towards his team’s defensive huddle dragging both legs behind him.
It only took Berry a few plays to get into a rhythm where he was in the middle of the scrum from the defensive guard position to help tackle Riverdale’s ball carrier or at least influencing the mobile quarterback to move to either his left or right away from Berry. Although Berry’s Hornets were eventually overmatched by size and experience that culminated in a 39-6 defeat to the Raiders, his indomitable spirit did not allow his team to demonstrate any signs of waving the figurative white flag at any moment.
For many of us, we are not challenged with a condition that may compromise our ability to ambulate in a traditional sense, but it is noteworthy to see how Devon Berry is making the best of his abilities to the point where he has positioned himself to enter college in the pursuit of a degree in sports broadcasting. What can we accomplish with our God given talents?
There are moments in life when some of us may feel as if we are unappreciated or overlooked in comparison to others who have enjoyed more of a celebrated status. If that is the case, we must learn how to overcome these periods of distraction by developing the kind of determination to become a champion on the inside whether or not we are always touted by others. Some of us are finally realizing what it takes to become a champion after four decades or more of life; Devon Berry is a true champion in less than half that time.