By Jeanne Sager
GRAHAMSVILLE January 8, 2002 - D.J. Dymond wanted to make the last time he would step on a football field a celebration.
Dymond, a senior at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut and former Tri-Valley gridiron star didnt just play his last football game and leave the field.
He did it all in style ending his last year on the Sacred Heart team playing in the ECAC championship bowl against Duquesne and being picked as a first-team Northeast Conference player.
Dymond registered 14 tackles and one-and-a-half sacks in the title game, as he and his teammates defeated Duquesne, 31-15. Sacred Heart finished the 2001 season with a perfect 12-0 record.
It was tough playing my last game, Dymond noted. But I wanted it to be more of a celebration after the victory, the whole team unleashed.
Football has always been a large chunk of Dymonds life from playing ball in his backyard in Grahamsville with older brother Calvin and younger brother Tim up through the ranks in the Tri-Valley school district and on to college.
He can remember attending Tri-Valley Bear varsity high school games even before he joined the schools modified team in seventh grade.
And Dymond still has fond memories of playing in high school, sharing the field with first Calvin, then Tim, and the time the Bears won the Section IX title. Tri-Valley, however, subsequently lost to Valhalla by an 8-0 final and Valhalla went on to become the Class C state champion.
We had a pretty good team all but my freshman year, Dymond recalled.
Coming out of high school, Dymond, a 1998 T-V graduate wasnt heavily recruited by any schools, but hed already picked out his university and he knew he couldnt just stop playing football.
D.J. had visited older brother Calvin numerous times at Sacred Heart. He already knew it was the school for him, and somehow he had to play football there.
It was just too fun to give up, he explained.
So D.J. put together a tape of his highlights playing football for Tri-Valley and sent it to Sacred Heart. The school responded well, sending Dymond some paperwork to fill out and inviting him to the first day of practice.
He tackled the switchover from high school to college ball quickly, adapting to a quicker way of playing the game.
It was actually easier to adjust than I thought it would be, Dymond recalled.
Luckily for him, Dymond was able to stay on the defensive line, the position he played as a T-V Bear.
And he quickly grew accustomed to the way things were done at Sacred Heart, spending hours on the field at practice or watching game tapes with his teammates.
Its a huge chunk of my life, he stated, even when were not on the field we spend four-and-a-half to five hours watching film and were always doing something together.
His teammates are not only the guys he spends time with during football season, but all year-round, he noted.
And for the past two years, that group of friends has included Tim the 19-year-old sophomore who followed his two older brothers to Sacred Heart.
Its weird sometimes, playing with my brother, D.J. noted. You dont think about it much, but then once in awhile Id go against him in practice and think, wait, thats my brother.
Though Dymond had a chance to play with both of his brothers in high school, sharing one of his favorite pastimes with Tim has been special.
This has been a little bit more special, Dymond noted. Even though I played with Calvin in high school, this was something new.
It was huge, Tim said, referring to his time with his brother. Hes like another coach for me.
When Tim first moved up to the college level, the speed of the game was a huge challenge, but he credited D.J. with easing the transition.
Right now, watching his brother shine, Tim said, hes staying back in the shadows to watch what he does.
Because the two play the same position, practice is really the only time they get to share the field.
Now, Im kind of up and coming in the game D.J. really has the spotlight on him and Im watching him, he said.
With the spotlight waning, D.J. Dymond is looking back on a game hes going to miss.
For me, part of what I liked about playing football was the friends you make, he noted. You spend a lot of time together away from practice. Between the players, the coaches and the managers, you really cant replace the relationships you make.
The discipline he learned playing the game has transferred over into the rest of his life as well, including his academics.
You have to work hard all of the time on that field, D.J. explained. If youre slacking someones going to see it in the tape.
Dymond expects to graduate in May with a bachelors degree in human movement sports science.
The Dymonds are the sons of Mary and Calvin Dymond of Grahamsville.