Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of columns from area student-athletes who will share their perspectives from the sports they play. This week’s guest is Cony senior Isaac Gingras, who competed on the school’s football, wrestling and lacrosse teams.
As I write this my senior year is in full swing — and so is my last high school sports season. Memories and lessons are flooding back to me.
Everything through the last four years has helped me grow into the young man I am now. From winning the Class B state championship in football last fall (a 30-23 victory over Kennebunk), to wrestling junior varsity, to trying to win a lacrosse game. My coaches have had a big influence on me; the lessons I learned are invaluable.
The most valuable one I’ve learned is to never quit. My whole life — since I started playing football in the second grade, anyway — lead to one moment, one night: Nov 22, 2013.
It was the Class B state title game against Kennebunk at the University of Maine.
Not only would I be playing for the Gold Ball, I would also be playing my last high school football game. The seniors had worked extremely hard to get to where we were, but we came up short and trailed at the half. During halftime our starters got together before the coaches came in to talk to us.
We sat there as teammates and discussed what we had to do: Go back out to Morse Field and focus on our game. I had been playing with a large majority of my teammates since I was a little skipper, running around chasing other kids in flag football. I had complete faith in my teammates and I never had a doubt in my mind we would come back.
One of the most memorable plays of that game came at the hands of fellow captain John Bennett. We were down a point with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter when Kennebunk’s star running back, Nicco DeLorenzo, broke away for what seemed like a long touchdown run. I remember running down the field and watching Bennett chase DeLorenzo down from behind at the 3-yard line. Kennebunk fumbled on the next play and we recovered the ball on the 1-yard line
The resulting drive is sure to go down in Maine high school football history. We drove 99 yards in 3 minutes, 45 seconds. The end result was a touchdown pass from Ben Lucas to Jon Saban with a minute left in the game that helped give us a 30-23 lead. We started the drive slowly but once we started rolling we weren’t going to be stopped.
We kicked the ball off to Kennebunk, but its last drive ended when Reid Shostak intercepted a pass thrown by Kennebunk quarterback Nick Emmons.
The very next play turned out to be my last in a high school football game: A quarterback kneel-down. With that, we won the state championship. The pure elation that sunk in after my final snap to Lucas was overwhelming. We accomplished the goal that we had been working on since we were young and chasing each other’s flags on Alumni Field.
Besides the lessons I took away from football, I’ve taken just as much away from wrestling and lacrosse.
Last year, as a junior, was my first on the mats. Friends, coaches and teachers talked me into it and I figured I might as well wrestle since I didn’t have much else to do.
However, I was one of the two 285-pound weight class wrestlers on the team. I didn’t really know what I was doing but I showed up to practice every day. Even though I didn’t wrestle varsity much and I never placed in a tournament, I loved my time with the team. Everyone was extremely supportive and wanted to see me succeed.
Wrestling really helped me learn about being a good teammate. I made sure that my fellow wrestler and friend, Elias Younes, worked hard every day. I challenged him and made him better each time we stepped on the mat together. I was overjoyed when I watched him place first in the Eastern A tournament last season.
Lacrosse at Cony has never really been a powerhouse program, but I take as much away from it as anything else. I learned to never give up and to just work on getting better no matter the situation.
Every time you step onto the field you have a choice: You can either work on improving or just mess around and do nothing to get better. I’ve made the realistic goal to work on getting better every time I’m on the field, whether it’s stopping a hard shot I couldn’t the day before or just trying to get more accurate.
High school sports created a truly amazing environment to learn and improve as a person. It’s weird thinking that I’m only weeks away from graduation and that my high school athletic career is over. For me, there isn’t a crystallizing moment when I realized it was coming to an end.
It’s all the little things. From competing in the senior “Fatty Olympics” (punt, pass, and kick competition for senior linemen), to taking the last bus rides to games with my teammates. Every time you walk on to the field, mat, court, diamond or track as a high school athlete is special.
I’m just glad I made the most of it.