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MIT Football on Sept. 11, 2001
Today we remember the horrific day as our nation was attacked and we also honor the lives who were lost, the sacrifice of the brave men & women of the first responders and the people currently involved in the magnificent rebuilding of the World Trade Center.
On Sept. 11th, 2001, I was a junior at MIT sleeping in my room when one of my fraternity brothers knocked on my door and told me that the Wordl Trade Center towers had been completely destroyed by 2 airplanes in a terrorist attack.
I jumped out of my bed, and went online to CNN.com and saw a plain white website w/ pictures of the twin towers on fire. (The normally fancy CNN website was down for some reason as a result of the attacks and I was looking at a backup)
I got ready and walked across the Harvard Bridge to school, seeing people weeping on the streets and the whole time couldn’t help but think that I could have been on one of those flights from Boston to LA had they chosen to pick a different day for the attack.
Naturally, I was moved to tears by all those suffering around me.
I arrived at school and went into the lab to meet with my professor and a few other students (one of the few classes I actually attended), and we talked about what had happened. Most classes were cancelled that day. We were short on details about the attack and could do little else, but to continue our lab work building an EKG design to monitor heart rates.
During all my 4 years at MIT, I played on the NCAA varsity football squad and practice was never cancelled. I wondered whether practice would be cancelled, today.
Believe it or not, MIT has the most number of varsity sports of any college or university in the world. Sports is a big part of life at MIT.
That day I was hearing about many sports cancelling practice. But I heard nothing about Football… so I walked into the locker room and saw all my teammates getting dressed, some of them crying, punching the lockers with their bare fists and talking about the day’s events, while getting ready.
Practice was on…
We walked on the empty massive practice field usually bussling with dozens of sports from soccer to track & field to field hockey to baseball. Today we were alone.
It was a surreal day and walking onto that empty field was eerie. We walked slow with our hearts heavy and saw all our coaches on the field and we kneeled together in a moment of prayer.
Then practice began…
Quickly the horrors of that day faded as we escaped into the world of football, going over plays, hitting each other hard and fast and doing what we had to do to prepare for Saturday’s game at Salve Regina University in Massachusetts.
It was probably the best and most focused practice I ever experienced, each of us so ready to think about anything other than what had happened that day. For 2 hours, we completely forgot about the day and played football as hard as we could on a muddy gridiron field – it was amazing.
When practice ended, the days events came back to our thoughts and hit us like a ton of bricks… “Sh*t, back to reality…”
At the end of the season I had a conversation with my Offensive Line coach about that day. He had told me that the coaching staff had a fiery discussion about whether or not to cancel practice and they ultimately decided to press forward.
I think it was their determination to not allow these acts of terror affect the lives of Americans anymore than they already had – at least not the lives of their players.
Every single other sport on campus cancelled practice, except Football.
Many of the players were directly impacted by the tragedy of that day – friends, family and acquaintances lost. Many of them were in ROTC and would be serving in the military upon graduation and see combat.
My coach said that when practice was over, they all felt they had made the right decision. Our coaches and MIT Football had offered us 2 hours of much needed mental relief from the pain of that day. After all, the ripples of heart break from 9/11 would be felt for many years to come by all of us.
As coaches and players on the most horrific day in modern American history, we did the only thing we could do – play the game which we had been given the freedom and opportunity to play and coach – American Football.
Ferny Ceballos is an entrepreneur and trainer within the network marketing industry. To learn more about Ferny and his business ventures, please visit www.FernyCeballos.com
Member Since: 10/08/2007
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