By: Dylan DeWitt
In athletics, there are ups and downs, victories and defeats, successes and failures. When you are a student-athlete, you never truly know when your last competition or practice may be, so giving everything your all should be within your mentality. This statement proved true for Chauncey Bridges one day during football practice.
Bridges, a senior from Farmington Hills, Mi., was primed and ready for his final season as an Oiler. Coming off a stellar year in 2016, and claiming all-region and all-conference honors, the 2017 season could not start any quicker for him to try and pick up where he left off.
Bridges would play in the first three games where he averaged just under 50 yards a game. After that, the scenario no athlete wants to happen, happened. On what seemed to be a normal day of practice, a blocking drill went wrong for the Oiler running back.
“During a blocking drill in practice I hit a teammate and lost feeling in my extremities for a moment,” said Bridges.
The team, staff, and trainers immediately knew something had happened. After a few days of waiting for the tests to come back, the diagnosis of a spinal stenosis came in. The athletic department and doctors talked it over and believed Bridges would no longer be able to play due to the high risk.
This news was tough to swallow, but it did not stop Bridges from being the best teammate he could be; possibly a contributing factor to the success of the Oilers this season. The Football team would make it to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2017 NCCA Division II Football Playoffs for the first time ever, along with setting many records and accomplishments along the way.
“This season was so memorable because of the players on the team, the brotherhood that has been forged through the countless hours of working with each other, and building each other up,” said Bridges. “It made it possible for us to live in the moment the entire season.”
The most memorable part of the season may have come on Senior Day. As the Oilers piled on the points and moved into victory formation on that Saturday afternoon, number 20 trotted onto the field to call the last play and take the final kneel. In that special moment, the ball snapped and emotions ran through Bridges more than ever before.
“After all the time I put in with my brothers working towards our goal, I had my season taken from me. It was hard, but I was able to keep my spirits up, and motivate my team anyway possible,” Bridges said.
Chauncey Bridges ended his career with 2,511 yards and 16 touchdowns as a four-year player at the University of Findlay. He will remember his memories here, and especially this year filled with its’ ups and downs.
“To be honored in that way on our Senior Night was absolutely amazing and I honestly can’t put into words the feelings I had. All I can say is that I don’t cry often at all, but in that moment, I couldn’t hold back a single tear,” said Bridges.