By Greg Ritchie
CROCKETT – For Crockett Independent School District (CISD) Bulldog fans, #4 Quarterback Damon “DJ” Dickson needs little introduction. Dickson led the team in a tough, rebuilding year, with young players and a new head coach. While Dickson has only begun to show his football talent, it is his progress off the field which has Bulldog teachers and administrators nodding in approval.
This reporter first met DJ at the Christmas in Crockett event, where he was a volunteer and faithfully showed up well before 6 a.m. to make sure vendors navigated the complicated setup before the festival opened. Bright, funny, outgoing – but with a razor wit which could sting those unfamiliar with his sense of humor, Dickson isn’t your typical jock or high school quarterback.
CISD teachers, too, confirmed the young man is not only applying himself and excelling in class, but has begun to be a leader among the other students, often encouraging others to behave and act right. While that may not seem cool to any young junior in high school, it bodes well for this young man’s future, and the coaches, teachers and family members helping him move forward in life.
First things first, what about the name “DJ?”
“I’m a junior,” he explained. “My dad had the same name, so they decided it would be easier to just call me ‘DJ.’”
Dickson spoke with The Messenger from the high school library, bouncing in on crutches after a slight injury in a soccer scrimmage. Annoyed with the setback, DJ was positive about his future and honest about his past.
“When I was younger, I was pretty bad,” DJ said. “I got in trouble almost every day, doing everything you can imagine – throwing crayons around the classroom…I even put ketchup in my teacher’s coffee one time.”
Guiltily laughing at this last prank, DJ didn’t miss a beat. “The teacher didn’t think it was funny,” he groaned.
Of course, the question was, what had changed? How did he get himself out of trouble?
“I guess I grew out of it and realized I’m not supposed to be doing that type of stuff,” DJ said. “I should finish school, with at least a better than average GPA. You can’t do that if you’re in trouble every day.”
DJ said he liked the business classes the most, admitting he has now taken just about all of the classes the school offers. There is a practical side to that.
“I like learning about business and money; I know that will be important someday. I enjoy the field of general marketing,” DJ admitted.
With the Bulldogs finishing an expected tough season, DJ said it’s a young team and everyone is in a rebuilding and growing phase, including himself.
“I feel like it was a learning season for most of the people who play, a season to gain experience for us, and maybe for the next year or so,” DJ said. “We were all trying so hard to give the seniors a good season, since it was their last year. But it’s a young team – 28 or 29 of us will be back next year.”
Being starting quarterback your junior year is never easy, with pressure not only from teammates and coaches, but the whole community following every game.
“I took it serious, really serious,” DJ said, lowering his voice. “But it really was a learning year for me, too. I was learning during the process of playing.”
DJ said he would love to play sports after high school, but doesn’t have all the eggs in that basket. If sports don’t work out, he looks forward to becoming a leatherneck, joining the U.S. Marines and getting a degree after his service.
The armed forces could certainly use a young man with these budding leadership skills. Asked about comments from teachers that he is becoming quite a leader on campus, DJ was blunt in why he tries to inspire others.
“It’s terrible watching people ruin themselves – just a disappointment and pretty dumb. I’m not afraid to tell people about themselves. If they’re doing something good or if they’re doing something bad, I just tell them.”
DJ may have the talent to become a Marine Drill Sergeant – they, too, are not shy about telling others brutal truths.
Back at home, DJ’s mom and family are proud of this young man. During the football season, they offered him an incentive that surprised him.
“During football, they would reward me for every touchdown I would get,” DJ smiled. “$20 a touchdown.”
DJ said he enjoys volunteering for events such as Christmas in Crockett, not just for the good of the community, but for the extra points it gives students on resumes and college applications.
Admitting he doesn’t like to see the sun much unless he’s playing a sport, the young man is driving now and helping the family run errands around town. He is the kind of young man our town can be proud of, and rally behind, as he works to avoid the pitfalls and errors of so many young men in our day and age.
One answer showed DJ’s practical attitude and wise-beyond-his-years outlook on life. Asked why he was motivated to work so hard on being a good student, good role model and the rest, DJ answered as he smiled.
“What if football doesn’t work out? I want to have a good resume and get into a good school after high school,” he concluded.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]