EASTCHESTER, N.Y. Just one year ago, Rick DelGatto was a strapping two-way lineman anticipating his junior football season at Eastchester High School when he was diagnosed with an enlarged aorta and told by doctors that his playing career was over.
I was distraught and probably comatose for a good two months when they told me about my heart, said DelGatto, now a senior who is at every practice motivating his teammates. If I didnt have my football team I dont know what I would have done. I had 20 kids come to my house that night within five minutes.
DelGattos heart ailment may have ended his presence on the field as a player, but it has not stifled his love for the game, for his teammates and for being part of what he says will be a memorable season.
Any stretching of the aorta could cause a rupture, so DelGatto is out to keep his teammates hearts beating for him.
I feel this will be the best year for Eastchester ever, DelGatto said. Im here to help keep the guys up always moving forward. I tell them every time you hit a wall put yourself in my shoes, he said. Ill be here all the way. We want to write a Hollywood story.
The Eagles Head Coach Fred DiCarlo said having DelGatto around is inspiring.
The players have to be up when Rick is around, DiCarlo said. He is a senior leader, thats it.
Just like any senior captain, DelGatto takes his responsibility seriously. He hopes someday that his time working the sidelines will help lead him into coaching.
I could see myself as a coach, he said. But right now Im here to help anyway I can. Its going to be a great season.
Are you an Eastchester Eagles fan? Do you know an athlete that inspires his teammates?
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