Lessons Learned

            Editor’s note: Five members of the Old Rochester Regional Youth Football 12-and-under team share their experience of the 2022 season that saw the Bulldogs rebound from a 2-3 record to run the table through the Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts League of Pop Warner Football and then win their way to the New England Regional Championship against eventual winner Hamden, Connecticut.

Benji Baptiste

            I moved here from Florida to see what it’s like here, and little did I know that one decision would change my whole life. It was like my life got flipped because I went from always sunny weather, a small group of family and an outside school to, most of the time, cold weather, a really big group of family and an inside school.

            While I was enjoying my time here, my Dad introduced me to football, and he helped me learn the basics. I enjoyed the first couple of practices with my team, then my first-ever football game came around, and I was so nervous.

            I immediately just fell in love with the sport as soon as I started playing and had an amazing season, making it to the Regional finals. From starting football ’til now, I learned, even when things get hard, you have to get right back up. Knowing this and knowing the way football has gave me a whole other view of life.

Jonah Hobin

            This being my first year playing tackle football, I am proud to be on the Bulldogs, going from not knowing how to tackle to being the last standing Pop Warner team in Massachusetts. Along the way, we learned, we played, we won, and every single time we said, “Hard work pays off.” We were disciplined every practice; if we went offsides, we would run a lap. If we had a tough team against us that week, we would do extra sprints, “Beasts.” Through my experience this year, I learned that hard work does pay off and to be more disciplined in my everyday life.

            Although this was my first year playing tackle football, I had not known a lot of the people on the team, (but) I made a bunch of friends quickly. For being a fairly quiet and shy kid, I was surprised that people wanted to talk to me and wanted to have fun while playing football. This year playing football taught me what it’s like to be on a great team. I hope to play and work with all my coaches, teammates and my friends again next season.

David Medeiros Jr.

            This season was absolutely incredible. I learned so much and not even just about football.

One of the many things I learned this season was that hard work pays off. If you want to accomplish something, you have to work hard for it, even if it is something very simple. If you do not work hard, then you cannot accomplish your goal.

            My team’s goal in the beginning of this season was to simply make it to playoffs, and in the beginning of the season, we were slacking on effort. After we lost our third game in a row, we started working harder and did not give up. As soon as we started working hard again, we started to win and even made it beyond our goal to win our division and then proceed to the New England finals.

            Another thing I learned this season is resilience. We kept working and did not give up. In the middle of the season, we were 2-3, and there was a lot of doubt about us making playoffs, but we kept our heads up and did not give up. We did eventually make it to the playoffs and even won the (RISMA League) championship. In that championship game it was a tough battle, but my team and I kept our heads up and kept playing as hard as we could. On our final defensive drive, we could have given up and let them in the end zone, which would have won them the game, but we played hard and didn’t.

            One more thing I learned this season is discipline. On defense, if you don’t do your assignment, you could let the other team score a touchdown, get a big play, or a lot more. The same thing goes for offense too. Off the field, you also need to stay disciplined. If there is a bad situation happening, you need to stay disciplined and remove yourself from it. Or, if someone is trying to annoy you, you just stop and do not escalate the situation. These are some of the many lessons I learned playing football this year.

Connor Nelson

            The Old Rochester 12U football team is one big family. It’s like a clock. Every piece inside the clock has to do its job to make the clock work. This season impacted the way I played, and it affected the way everyone played because of our mental and physical efforts.

            Mentally, we all worked very hard this season because we knew that it was a team effort and knew that everybody had to do their job in order to succeed. I believed in my teammates and knew that as a team, we could win all of the games that we did.

            The coaches were also a big reason why we made it as far as we did. They worked well together to help us win, and they had a very good game plan that we had to trust so that we could succeed. I played many different positions and had to think about all of the responsibilities so that we could win as a team. I played running back, back-up quarterback and linebacker. The coaches taught me how to adapt on offense, defense and special teams.

            I had to push myself to my limit in all aspects of the game so that we could win as a team. Physically, we knew we would have to beat some tough teams like Dighton-Rehoboth and Edgewood (Cranston, Rhode Island) in order to win the RISMA Championship. Dighton-Rehoboth was a huge playoff win, but we will never forget slaying the giant – Edgewood! We never gave up, and Coach Medeiros motivated us by saying, “Why not us?” Now I hope that next year we can repeat all of those things so that we can win another RISMA Championship. Why not us again? Go Bulldogs!

Eamon Perez

            Hello, my name is Eamon Perez, and I am an offensive lineman for the 12U football team of Old Rochester. This season I have learned many things about myself as a person and how I can better interact with the people around me. It is my first year ever playing tackle football, and I’m very proud of myself and my team on how all of us have grown.

            In the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure how we’d do. After a rough start, we learned to trust each other and work together to make ourselves better. We came out victorious in the playoffs, won the RISMA Championship and became the second-best team in New England because of our camaraderie, coaches and skill.

            My coaches were amazing, and they taught me how to play. The team was supportive of me, no matter what (role) I played on the team. The coaches pushed me to be healthier and they changed my life so much. When I joined football, my coaches made it clear that if I pushed myself, I would be happier with myself and how I played.

            I felt like I was contributing to my team whenever I played in a game, and I felt important. My self-confidence has grown, and I met so many friends that I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for football, and I truly encourage anyone to play the sport and join the team.

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