Standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Tom Brady and Wes Welker, David Grain Jr. looked around in awe.
He had finally arrived.
Seated atop his father’s shoulders inside the New England Patriots’ inflatable helmet, the 4-year-old relished in the excitement as the players formed a unified front around him as they prepared to run onto the field at Gillette Stadium.
“It was amazing,” Grain Jr. says. “Watching the players, it was cool to just see the crowd and all of the fans cheering for a group of 11 guys.”
From that moment on, Grain Jr. wanted to play football, but it wasn’t until he moved over to The Out-of-Door Academy his freshman year that he finally had the opportunity to don a helmet and shoulder pads.
Following in the footsteps of his father, David Grain, who played college football at Holy Cross, Grain Jr. couldn’t wait to get on the gridiron.
“I loved it right from the start, when I actually had an opportunity to play,” Grain Jr. says. “It’s an awesome experience being with my teammates. It’s like a brotherhood.”
But the road to stardom wasn’t easy.
“My freshman and sophomore year, I never got a lot of playing time,” Grain Jr. says. “At the time, I thought, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But, eventually, I knew I would make it somewhere.”
Grain Jr. won the Thunder’s Most Improved Player Award his sophomore year.
“I put a lot of work in and tried hard,” Grain Jr. says. “I’ve learned to use hard work to get results.”
Now, with his senior season upon him, Grain Jr. is focused on trying to lead the Thunder back to the postseason, a feat Grain Jr. says ODA is definitely capable of achieving in its new three-team district.”
“We have to give 110% effort the whole time,” Grain Jr. says. “It’s not just about wins and losses but how well we perform and the effort we put in.”
“We’re young, but we definitely have a good team,” Grain Jr. says. “I think we’re definitely underestimated. I think we’re going to come out and surprise a lot of people. If you don’t believe me — just watch.”
— Jen Blanco, Sports Editor
To view more info on other teams, as well as scores, stats and video, click here.
Brett Timmons: Eighth year
On how the team shapes up this year: We’re still in the infancy stage. This team reminds me a lot of the 2006 team. We have some veterans coming back, but the core makeup of this team is very young. We’re a couple years away from being real players. We have more developing to do to get accustomed to playing on the varsity level.
On new quarterback Nate Strawderman: I want Nate just to be Nate. Right now, Nate is energetic and raring to go. But he has to realize there’s a process to this madness. You have to take it slow and understand the power in why and the magic in how. Once he has a total understanding of the how and the why, he’ll be ready to fly. He’ll be able to execute to the best of his ability, and we should be victorious.
On the new district: It’s like going from the Big Ten to now every game counts. We’re the new kids on the block. It’s going to be fun. We’ve got to come out ready to play and try and win one of those two games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
9 — David Grain JR.
Senior, wide receiver/
“He has all of those (qualities) to be the leader that I know that he can be,” Brett Timmons says. “He’s an unbelievable leader. He doesn’t know the power he has inside of him.”
53 — Kevin Grathwohl
“He has a blue collar-toughness mentality and work ethic that I hope all of the guys aspire to achieve,” Timmons says.
All games start at 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 Bradenton Christian
Sept. 6 at Calvary Christian
Sept. 13 at Booker
Sept. 20 Citrus Park
Sept. 27 BYE
Oct. 4 Bishop Verot*
Oct. 11 Community
School of Naples
Oct. 18 at Cardinal Mooney*
Oct. 25 at St. Stephen’s
Nov. 1 Victory Christian
Nov. 8 Cambridge School
*Denotes district game