Veterans feel back home on football field for McDaniel
By By Jake Rill and Times Staff Writer
Nov 15, 2014 at 3:00 AM
The grind of daily practices, putting in countless hours on the turf running drills, installing plays, and first dealing with the heat of summer and then the briskness of late fall aren't enjoyed by all football players.
McDaniel offensive lineman Jeremy Nagle loves it. Because several years ago, stationed in Afghanistan as a member of the Army, Nagle wasn't sure he'd ever competitively play the sport he fell in love with at Washington High School.
"I know people will talk about how much practice sucks," Nagle said. "I think practice is fun now. You just come out here, just playing ball and running around."
Nagle is one of three veterans on the Green Terror squad this season, particularly noteworthy this week as Veteran's Day fell on Tuesday as the team prepared for its Saturday season finale at Johns Hopkins
Defensive lineman Mike Wright also previously served in the Army and linebacker Shane Douglass is a former Marine. Both spent time stationed in Afghanistan.
For Nagle, a senior, the decision to go to McDaniel after returning from overseas was made easier by the fact his older brother attended the school. Nagle did not attempt to play for the football team during his first two years at McDaniel.
However, he was at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium taking in the games. Nagle decided to go out for the team his junior year. He is now finishing up his second season, and it's an opportunity he is glad he took after a few years away from the game.
"I came up here freshman, sophomore year, I was up on the hill watching these guys, and I just kept thinking, 'There's no way I could be out there,'" Nagle said. "Then you come back, and I never thought I would be able to play again."
Nagle has played in three games this season for the Terror.
Douglass, a sophomore, felt the same pain as Nagle during his time in Afghanistan. After playing in high school at Friendly School in Fort Washington, Douglass opted to enter the military. While at the base, Douglass watched some of his friends play in NCAA Division I games, giving him the itch to return.
"I was just like, 'I definitely could do that.' It's in the back of your mind the whole time," Douglass said. "You always aspire to go to the next level, whether it be college or whatever. And when it gets taken away from you, you feel like you're missing out on a part of your life."
Douglass has played in eight games for McDaniel this season, recording eight tackles and a forced fumble.
Like Nagle, Douglass said it was incredible to return to the gridiron.
"You can't really put that into words," Douglass said. "It's just a feeling, you feel like you're back home. Everything felt familiar."
Wright is a freshman at McDaniel, spending his first season on the team after returning from the Army. He is a graduate of Dunbar and has a goal of becoming a U.S. Marshall after his time at McDaniel.
Green Terror coach Mike Hoyt said he has enjoyed having all three veterans on his team this season.
"Their life experiences and their leadership ability, having been in the military, that has provided them with some great insight," Hoyt said. "To see them have an opportunity to go back and play a game that they love, to have that opportunity, it's neat."