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Dedication of Springville football player was special

In 2009, the modified football team at Springville did not have enough players to field a squad, so the season was canceled. The only consolation for the remaining players was to practice each day with the JV team, with no chance to play in a game, due to state law. Take or leave it. How disheartening.

But a few of those modified players did show up each day for practice and go through the drills. One of those players was J.P. Oatman.

As a first-year assistant on the Griffins staff, I remember this particular boy, because his parents grew up in the same town and graduated from the same high school as me – Gowanda.

I only spent the one year at Springville and lost track of those players, when the season ended.

But, Thursday, Nov. 8, on the front page of the sports section of The Buffalo News, was J.P. and two other teammates, each holding a photo of a parent that had recently succumb to cancer. Again, how disheartening.

But it did put a smile on my face, as I reflected back to three years ago, when J.P. had nothing to play for, each week, but still came to practice, each day.

In my 17-year career as a head varsity or assistant varsity football coach, I do not remember the dedication that I saw from an eighth grade boy named J.P., in 2009.

Mark Benton

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