Our Lady of Good Counsel High School’s Darien Carr, as is often the case, wanted a new experience.
His freshman football season had just ended — a year in which he was “more on the chubby side” and played offensive guard and defensive tackle — and he was looking for a both a different winter activity and a way to stay in shape. So, Carr joined the wrestling team.
“I guess you could say maybe 60 percent with football in mind and 40 percent out of just interest for the sport,” said Carr, who's now a senior. “Nah, 75 percent with football in mind.”
Yes, football is a big part of Carr’s life — maybe even a bigger part than he initially thought — but he’s determined not to make it the only part.
That’s why the Harvard-bound Carr, around the same time he quit wrestling in order to work with a football-minded personal trainer, started playing the string bass and joined the school orchestra.
“This may sound weird, almost, but I feel like balance is so important,” Carr said. “During the academic day, going to orchestra and playing music is almost kind of refreshing in a way, because you’re thinking, but you’re thinking in a different way.”
And that’s the same reason Carr enjoys linebacker more than defensive line, a position switch made possible by losing 40 pounds for wrestling.
“It’s more diverse,” Carr said. “You’re more part of different aspects of the game. As a defensive lineman, it’s almost repetitive.”
Carr — who returned an interception 55 yards in Good Counsel’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship-game victory over DeMatha on Sunday — made all the on-field defensive calls this season, but Good Counsel coach Bob Milloy cautions against pigeonholing the future Ivy Leaguer as only a smart player.
“He’s also athletic, and he’s tough,” Milloy said.
That’s why Carr also had offers from Hawaii, Richmond, Delaware, William & Mary, Bucknell, Penn, Cornell and Yale and interest from Virginia and Vanderbilt.
Of course, Carr said his primary reason for picking Harvard was academics, but when asked about his college choice, he spoke first about Harvard’s Boston locale.
“Growing up in the suburbs, I’m sure there’s people who don’t even know how bad it can get in some places,” Carr said. “Going to college is a life experience. I wanted to go to school in a city, so I could encounter the reality some people have to face.”
He’s considering majoring in economics — “The system of money is so powerful in society, and I feel if you could understand that, you could bring about great sense change” — or psychology — “I’m more intrinsically motivated to learn psychology because you can relate it to your everyday life and you can use it to better understand people.”
Carr has his own way of looking at things, including football. His father, who is the Good Counsel junior varsity defensive coordinator, played for Milloy at Springbrook High School. But when Carr moved to varsity, he purposefully didn’t ask his dad what playing for Milloy would be like. Carr wanted to experience it for himself.
As much as he’s always looking for a new experience, Carr in no way regrets how much time he’s put into his favorite sport.
“Football has opened up so many opportunities for me,” Carr said. “It’s just been life-changing.”