Every time senior David Henry takes the field, he takes his mother with him in the form of a tribute written on his wrist tape that reads "R.I.P Mom."
Joy Dickerson succumbed to cancer in April, but she may be one of the Fightin' Quakers' MVPs for the 2017 season. With Henry not living up to his own expectations three years ago, and the football team in the middle of a 0-10 season, he was ready to leave the gridiron for good in fall 2014.
"Out of 100 percent, I was 95 percent close to quitting," Henry said. "At first, I didn't see a future in it, and I was frustrated. But, I am not a quitter. My teammates; I couldn't let them down. It is bigger than one person; it's a team. I couldn't let my brothers down, and on top of that I was playing for something bigger – my mother.
"Seeing her fight cancer all the time, she never gave up in tough times, so I couldn't justify quitting because things got tough," Henry continued. "I couldn't live with myself if I just quit. It would be like, "What kind of man are you?"
Three years later, Henry is embarking on his final collegiate season and the 245-pound defensive tackle has left a bunch of success in his wake. Henry earned All-Ohio Athletic Conference two seasons ago, but missed most of last season with a leg injury.
But his success and impact isn't limited to the football field. Sporting a nearly perfect grade point average in Sport Management/Wellness, he is a two-time Academic All-American and a two-time Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar. You can now add OAC Student-Athlete of the Month (October 2017) to his growing list of accolades.
Additionally, the Wilmington native is a member of Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and a resident assistant.
"David is everything that's right about student-athletes," said Wilmington head coach Bryan Moore. "He gets it. He takes a lot of pride in doing things the right way and leading from the front. On the practice field, in the classroom, around the campus, and in the community, David is everything student-athletes should be celebrated for. He is perfect for this award. I am excited that people outside of our campus will get a glimpse of the elite man of integrity and character that I get so see every day."
Even with all of his individual success, Henry is the ultimate team player. With the team running very thin on interior linemen due to injuries, coaches asked Henry to play a position he never played before – defensive tackle. And he agreed with zero hesitation.
"What kind of leader would I have been if I said no?" he said. "That would just be selfish. If that was best for the team, then I was going to do it."
In the first game of the season, a win over Earlham, Henry led all defensive linemen with six tackles.
Henry wants to leave a legacy that players behind him can follow, and he wants to add some wins on the way out. He is well on his way to doing both.