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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.
But only three months of the year are football season and "thank God for that," DeMars said. It's not that DeMars doesn't love the sport but he says he appreciates it most when he can look back on it and do other things.
The other things in Teddy's life include movies and chess. Teddy is so used to being in the center of the arena that he relishes the times when he can sit back and be the audience. "I like to see every new movie that comes out--even bad ones," he said. His favorites are "The Godfather" and "The Graduate." DeMars sees himself as having the same problems with his future that Dustin Hoffman has in "The Graduate"--he's unsure what he'll do.
DeMars said that he thinks he'll go on to business school because he wants to get a white collar job. But he won't go right away. He's never traveled much but says he'd like to go to Europe this summer. "Just give me the gas and I'll be off," DeMars said.
DeMars has mixed feelings about leaving Harvard. Harvard has changed him a lot, he said. DeMars says he has opened up since he first came here as a "native and reserved" freshman. He says he's become a lot more objective about issues but still describes himself as a conservative.
"I'm pretty apathetic about politics because I just don't feel strongly enough to work for any great changes," DeMars said. His family isn't very political either. They've been through the "rough times" he said. "I guess you could call them an average American family." DeMars said.
DeMars is a government major but says the only course here that he'll never forget is Fine Arts 13. "I never knew anything about art but that course just opened up a world for me," he said.
Horan said that DeMars doesn't talk much about being captain of the Harvard team. "He's not a lot of noise but when he says something, the team listens."
The best comments concerning Teddy's leadership ability come from his teammates. "It's really tough to be a captain at Harvard where so many people think they're leaders," fullback Marc Mayberg said. "But Teddy, in his quiet way, has--the respect of the whole team."
DeMars's biggest fan is his mother. She hasn't missed a football game yet and she's the one who first encouraged him into sports by taking him to local games every weekend in Providence.
Teddy says that he eventually plans to go back to Providence, marry his high school girlfriend and raise a family. It's been a hectic four years playing football and DeMars leans heavily towards the quiet nine to five family man's life.
"But if somebody comes along and offers me a chance to play pro football. I'll jump at the opportunity." DeMars said. "After all, those Saturday mornings are pretty rough but there must be something good about them because I keep going back for more."
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