Duke’s indomitable spirit

Published 12:34 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Despite team losses, they remain positive


By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

WINDSOR — “Winning isn’t everything,” the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi was once quoted as saying about the game. “It’s the only thing.”

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Lombardi, well-versed as he was, never met the Windsor High School Dukes.

With a record of 0-9, the Dukes are nearing the end of what has certainly not been its greatest of seasons in terms of scoring or winning.

Indeed, the young team has suffered some crushing losses this season, being shut-out four games, and losing by as much as 50 and 60 points on multiple occasions.

But week after week, the Dukes have continued to take the field, united as a team, relentlessly seeking the taste of that first win.

“They keep fighting,” said Coach Chuck Parrish. “They get out here every day, they practice every day.” {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The team is comprised mostly of sophomores and freshmen in their first or second seasons, with only two seniors active on the team.

Other teams, particularly teams so young, might get discouraged by the heavy losses, or lose faith in themselves or their teammates. Not the Dukes, who continue to show up and work hard at each practice, according to Parrish.

“And that speaks a lot for who they are,” said Parrish. “Because in life, you can lay down or you can keep working, and the fact that they’re still here, and the fact that they’re still playing, that just speaks volumes for our players, our staff, our school.”

Will Dube, a sophomore who plays multiple positions on the team, notably quarterback and outside linebacker, said that while the season has been disappointing, the team has maintained an atmosphere of positivity and “high hopes.”

“Every game’s a highlight,” said Dube. “We come out here and work together. Even though we lose, it brings us closer and it makes us stronger.”

The team has become like a family, according to Dube, and a source of motivation to keep working hard.

“We want that win, but we stay positive about things,” said Dube. “I do it for my brothers and they do it for me.”

Tabreyon Ellis, a senior at Windsor High, is one of the most veteran players on the team. While Ellis acknowledged that the season hasn’t gone the way he wanted it to, it hasn’t diminished his love for the game.

“I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else, so the season doesn’t really matter to me,” said Ellis.

“I got to play it with these boys and it was a good experience for me.”

A highlight of the season for many of the players came during their homecoming game against the Greensville High Eagles. Though the Dukes lost 64-13, one of the team’s managers, a special needs student named Grant Fabits, had the opportunity to don the blue and gold Windsor gear and score a 30-yard touchdown in the 4th quarter.

As the Eagles’ players took a voluntary knee, the Dukes rallied around Fabits, running alongside him as he raced to the end zone for the score.

Parrish, who has been coaching at Windsor for 16 years, the past eight years as the head coach, said he has seen his players behave as upstanding citizens in the community.

“Our guys have been great and they’re doing what they need to be doing and they’re building, too,” Parrish said of his team’s character.

“They’re behaving in [school] and doing what they need to be doing academically.”

Junior Jeff Bess, who plays as offensive lineman and defensive end, said that while the losses have hurt, his teammates continually uplift his spirit.

“Everybody is positive no matter what,” said Bess. “In the building, outside the school and on the field. We try to keep it as positive as we can.”

Likewise, for junior running back and linebacker Jerell Kindred, the game has not stopped being fun.

“It didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, but we’re going to keep coming out,” Kindred said of the season.

“We haven’t won like we wanted to,” said Parrish on a warm Thursday evening of practice last week. “Other than that, I mean, the season’s been great. We got a great bunch of guys, and the guys work hard.”

The day before, Parrish asked his players if they were still enjoying the game.

“They said, ‘absolutely.’”

Through the losses, through the disappointments, the team has not stopped working for that allusive victory this year.

“We’re going to keep striving for that all the way until the season is done,” Parrish said.

The Windsor Dukes will play their final game this Friday, Nov. 4, at home against Park View. You can bet they’ll be out on the field Thursday afternoon, practicing for a win.  {/mprestriction}