Teddy DeMars captain of the Harvard football team was the first in his family to go to college the first to play football and the last to regret it.
"Football has been my passport to life -- it's given me the chance to make myself something and to get to where I am today," DeMars said.
Today DeMars is among the greats in Harvard football history. A halfback for two years, he is the third highest scorer and the fourth leading Crimson rusher of all time. Though he was always "sports minded" he said yesterday that he never thought he'd the opportunity to play Ivy League football.
Classical High School in Providence, R.I., is a far cry from Harvard, and DeMars, whose father is a janitor in a local public school, never thought about going to college. That is, until the coaches from Columbia discovered that he was the best rusher they'd ever seen.
"Coaches from colleges all over the place came to see me and I was really impressed with the things they said," DeMars said.
Waging a full scale campaign to recruit him, the coaches from Columbia got DeMars's consent to apply. However, a history teacher -- the local radical of Classical High -- encouraged DeMars to look into Harvard.
"My parents were really unsure about this place," DeMars said. "They had visions of Harvard being full of rich, snobbish preppies and they didn't think I'd fit in." DeMars said that the idea of Harvard really appealed to him. "A guy just can't turn down an opportunity like that," he said.
It was football from the very day DeMars came to Harvard. "Freshman football here is very informal." DeMars said "It's not conducive to good football but it is conducive to a lot of fun."
He had a lot more fun at football than he did wading his way through a Freshman's regimen of Ec 10. Nat Sci 3 and endless Soc Sci's. "I'm a scrambler and always have been." DeMars said, "I leave all my work for the last minute." Since the last minute during DeMars's Freshman year was the Harvard Strike, he was lucky and came out pretty well.
Lucky All the Way
In fact, DeMars is convinced he's been lucky all the way. He began to start with the varsity team in the second half of his sophomore year, "I was in the right place at the right time and the team just wasn't doing so well." Harvard won the last four games that DeMars started in, including a 14-12 victory over Yale, However, DeMars sees no correlation between his starting and Harvard's victories. "I just felt real good playing halfback," he said.
There have been some bad streaks for DeMars too. The worst times he remembers were spent sitting on the bench at the beginning of sophomore year. He still had to practice every day, but he never knew when he'd get the chance to make the Saturday game. When he finally did, he'd still always worry that he'd rush too soon or miss a play. But three years of college football produced an attitude that DeMars's backfield coach, Bob Horan, describes as "unbeatable."
"You can't dwell on the losses for too long." DeMars said, 'There'll always be a Monday and you've got to get right back in there. It could be a whole new ball game."
Saturday mornings before a game are the worst and the best times for DeMars. He follows the same schedule every Saturday of football season Up at 9:30 a.m. breakfast until 10 and then there's the wait. "You get sick of waiting. You hate waiting. You feel sick but you just want to get out there and play," he said. To pass the time, DeMars watches cartoons. He says they help him keep his mind off the game.