Inside the Hash Marks: An Ode to the Old Guys
Dartmouth long snapper Josh Greene ’23 reflects on the impact that the fifth-year seniors have had on the Big Green football team as the team contends for an Ivy League championship.
Dartmouth long snapper Josh Greene ’23 will be sharing his experience playing for the Big Green, covering topics such as the team’s preparation following COVID-19, the academic-sport-life balance required of an athlete at an Ivy League school and other musings on his experience in Hanover. This rendition reflects on Greene’s experience interacting with the team’s fifth-year seniors leading up to Saturday’s 20-17 win at Harvard.
Sometimes we don’t know what we have until it’s gone. Or, until it’s almost gone.
We have off from football practice on Mondays (unless we have a Friday night game, like this week against Princeton). This affords me the opportunity to do something that my busy Monday-Wednesday-Friday class schedule typically doesn’t: eat lunch with my teammates. This might not seem like a big deal to many, but it’s a small victory in the ups and downs of the crazy week of being a student-athlete.
As ten-or-so of us sat at the orange elevated tables that we always flock to for meals, the smell of the famous breaded Foco Monday chicken sat in the humid air of the dimly-lit “dark side” of the dining hall. The seniors help the first-years pick courses for their first winter term at Dartmouth, while the juniors and sophomores discuss what comes next in fraternity rush. The breeze-shooting surrounds me as mid-2000s hits play in the background. I take a look at who is sitting on my left: some of the old guys. No, not actual elderly people, but the fifth-year seniors.
On this occasion, I had the pleasure of sitting next to All-Ivy center Evan Hecimovich ’21, offensive tackle Donny Carty ’21 and captain and starting linebacker Tanner Cross ’21. Tanner and wide receiver Seamus O’Connell ’23 were talking about a game they like to play on their phones when Seamus popped his head up, turned to the other fifth-years and asked, “Wow, you guys really only have four weeks left of college, don’t you?”
This hit me harder than you might think it would. These guys, guys who I consider to be part of my extended family-of-sorts, were about to leave college, football and (in a way) childhood behind for the “real world.” And the scary thing is, I’m not too far behind. I’m only a junior right now, but here we are, already about three quarters of the way through the season, my first one actually seeing the field at Dartmouth. I realized that I need to cherish this time.
Practice the next day may have had the worst weather that I’ve ever had to play football in. It wasn’t too cold, around 40 degrees, but it was the type of cold where when you add gusting, swirling winds and intermittent showers into the mix, it becomes pretty miserable. As I was figuring out how to manage snapping in the rain, both for practice and our game against Harvard University, I found myself near the visiting team bleachers of Memorial Field. The other specialists and I were chatting with recently injured graduate student and fifth-year defensive back DeWayne “DJ” Terry ’21. He injured himself in our win against Yale University.
He was pedaling away on the bike to stay warm when I decided to ask him a question: “There’s no way that you don’t play in your last game against Harvard, right?” He just looked at me and smiled. “If it’s up to me, there’s no way I won’t be on that field on Saturday,” he said. I believed him, partly because of the conversation I took part in one day earlier, but also because with a football player, sometimes you can just tell. You can tell when someone has your back, when someone wants to get on that field and put their body on the line for their teammates and when nothing will keep them off the field. We have a lot of these types of guys, and DJ is one of them.
I assume that many of you who follow my column pay close attention to how our team does. I’m guessing that, like us, you all were not too thrilled with the outcome of our 19-0 loss against Columbia University. After we lost, there were a million different reasons that we could come up with for why we came out flat and lost a game that, frankly, we felt like we shouldn’t have. This made one of head coach Buddy Teevens ’79’s weekly sayings all the more crucial, though.
Coach T refers to every Ivy League game as a “championship game,” as you only have seven games to get yourself to the top of the standings by the end of the season. Losing one game can really hurt your chances of winning the league title, and unfortunately, that is the situation we found ourselves in leading up to Saturday’s game against Harvard. Two one-loss teams. Many in the media referred to it as an “elimination game.” After coming out flat against Columbia, we knew that we could not afford to do that again, especially on the road against a team in the same situation as us. This week, we did not let excuses get in the way. Guys were banged up, the weather forecast was gloomy, but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered outside of the group of men that I was ready to go to war with.
We earned our win on Saturday. Wide receivers Dale Chesson ’23 and Painter Richards-Baker ’25 made their mark with long catches in crucial moments, my roommate Quinten Arello ’23 secured an amazing interception right before the start of the fourth quarter and the guy who I’ve written about coming through in the clutch before, kicker Connor Davis ’22, knocked through the deciding field goal.
But hidden beneath the main storylines are some of the efforts of the “old guys.” Tanner Cross has been battling injuries since we were lifting partners in the spring and has been fighting to stay on the field all year. Although he wasn’t able to finish the game on Saturday, there was nobody on the sidelines with more fire in their eyes and dedication in their demeanor than him. Also, fifth-year defensive lineman Seth Walter ’21 could be seen diving after the opposing team’s ball carriers until the final Harvard kick sailed wide left. There may not be anyone on our team physically stronger than Seth, but battling through the array of injuries that he has accumulated over the years just illustrates the mental toughness that I’ve had the pleasure to admire up close this year.
What’s my message this week? I guess it’s that some of us dedicate part of our lives to doing the activities we love with the people we love doing them with. I know that the fifth-years love this game and this team, and that is why they have put their promising lives in the “real world” on pause to run it back one last time with the boys. We have three games left in our season, and they have three games left in their football and college careers. I know they will make the most of all of it, because that is the type of men they are.