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Hello readers of The Enterprise, my name is Nick Gray and I am senior on the varsity football team at St. Marys Ryken High School in Leonardtown.

I am from Brandywine, where I still live today and make the 45-minute commute to school on a daily basis.

Some people look at Ryken and think that the only sport that we are good at is lacrosse. This year, my teammates and I intend to change those peoples minds.

I have played football at Ryken for four years, since I was a freshman. I, along with Dezmon Greene, are the only two players on the team this year who can say that. It is a fact that I am extremely proud of.

I am also proud to say that I have been a part of the building process at Ryken, where we started our varsity program six years ago. While I have assisted in the building process, I have also had to rebuild myself as an athlete and as a person.

I was going in to my junior season feeling better than I ever had. I was stronger than before, faster than before, and certainly more confident in my abilities. Going into the opening game of the year I was excited. I thought, My first varsity game? Now its my chance to show everybody that I can play.

On the very first play, the opening kickoff of the year, I caught the ball on the return and immediately fell down. I was in pain, but I kept telling myself that I had to get back in the game, that I could handle the pain. I went back in four times that night and all four times, I fell to the ground.

After waiting a few weeks, I attempted to return to practice. I was still in pain, but I was stubborn and did not want to face the truth. In the first practice I fell, but this time, I could not get up. When I went to go get an MRI, I had to face the thing that I feared the most.

I had torn the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, in my left knee. I missed the rest of the season.

After the surgery, I had many complications over the next few months. These complications caused me to miss the first game of this current season, and even now, I know that Im not at 100 percent, nor am I anywhere close to it.

However, I switched from the fullback position to tight end, where I now play, splitting time with another player. My knee is still an issue, and it might be one for a very long time. However, I am determined not to give up. It is something that I will never do in my life, no matter how bad things get.

I am excited for this year, and I hope that some of you read this, and come to some of our games this year.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week.

Nick Gray

St. Marys Ryken senior