By Kevin Eickman
Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we lose sight of what this is all about. Participating in or covering high school athletics, we forget these are not just players in a game. These are real live human beings who are receiving an education and beginning the most exciting times of their lives.
In the case of former Woodbridge quarterback Troy Haynes, he was dealt one of the most devastating hands a young man can get. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with cancer. At first it was thought to be just in his kidney but it was quickly discovered he had a very aggressive form of the disease. He required intensive treatment with a bleak diagnoses.
Having a chance to speak with Haynes following his diagnosis, he was very optimistic that he would be able to beat it, no matter the odds. The entire Delaware football community rallied around him, with both emotional and financial support. In the words of Milford coach Shaun Strickland, “Troy Haynes was a true champion, his presence these last few months transcended the game of football, it broke down district lines and brought an entire state together. He brought awareness to a rare form of cancer as he battled day in and day out when others would have just given up!. I one day hope I leave that inedible mark on one life as Troy Haynes did on mine.”
Haynes was a champion in every sense of the word. Quarterbacking Woodbridge to a pair of State Championships, he was much more than a football player. Everyone who met him was a better person for having done so. With a contagious smile and a zest for life, there was little doubt that the world is a lesser place for him having passed away this Sunday.
The many words that could be used to describe his time at Woodbridge are limitless. If one had to choose, it would be competitor. Haynes was a multi-sport athlete with a competitive streak a mile wide.
During a conversation in May, he was asked what he loved most about football. Haynes was quick to respond, “It’s all about being with my teammates and my coaches. They are family to me, you can’t imagine how wonderful it is to be a part of that.”
The one thing about family is that they are always there for you. Over the last six months the size and love of his family rose by the day. The #fightlike4 movement became a battle cry as all of Delaware pulled for and demonstrated their love for a person most of them had never met.
In June Haynes mustered all his strength for one last moment of glory, on the same football field on which he had enjoyed so many marvelous nights. Ravaged by illness and treatment, he made his way unassisted to receive his diploma. It was a chance for him once again to demonstrate what Champions do. They do not quit; they fight. There is a lesson in that for all of us.
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