Where do I start with Dominique? I first met him freshman year of high school when we were playing football. Though a very nice person, Dominique was not exactly athletically inclined, which might appear strange for a member of an undefeated football team, but certainly was the case. He seemed a bit odd to me when I first met him—not that he was overtly strange, but different nonetheless. For example, he stayed on the team when he should have known better, and he thought he belonged on the team when we did know better. In the end, however, he became a part of the team and a part of my life.
Honestly, most of us knew where we belonged on the football field after only a couple of practices. Dominique was a ways down on the depth chart, but he didn’t seem to mind much. In fact, I started to see him as someone who thought he was better than he really was, and those sorts of kids always annoyed me. I probably knocked him around a few times when he got the ball in practice, just to prove to him who was boss. He didn’t seem to care, all 90 pounds of him. He’d be off-balance, out-of-position, and generally doing nothing right, and yet there he was on the next play and at the next practice. We didn’t cut anyone, so he had a spot on the team, but I often felt bad for him and how much he really thought he was doing.
School started after we’d already played a few games. Dominique was in my homeroom, along with a few of the other guys from the team. He started telling some of the ladies about how he played football, and I remember one of us reminding him of how little he really played. I don’t think any of us felt good about putting him down, but I guess we felt he needed to know his place. We were good and we wanted recognition, and we certainly didn’t want some pine-riding teammate stealing the limelight. He didn’t deserve what we deserved—hey, we were dopey high-school kids.
We kept playing football and Dominique kept showing up. No one could say or do anything that would dissuade the young man from trying to prove himself. Some of the taunting moved from him to James or Richard. He almost became part of the scenery, and we began to accept him for what he represented—effort. The team continued to represent success, and eventually we won a game by so many points that Dominique got a chance to play at the end. He was inserted at a defensive back, and we all had a sense of pride that we’d helped to make this opportunity for him possible. He had no idea what was going on, and he wandered around the field with sloth-like reflexes, but he was out there and he was trying. I think he dropped an interception thrown right at his chest, and none of us really cared too much.
Later that school year, one of us noticed that Dominique was wearing the same clothes quite often. I knew some kids who had refused to wash their football uniforms for the duration of the season, but this was altogether different. Dominique told us matter-of-factly, after Scott ripped on him a bit, that the reason he was wearing a pair of Chic jeans was because he shared that pair of pants with his sister and had one pair of his own. What do you say to that? We could have made fun of him for his poverty, but what would the point be? He had one and a half pairs of pants, and the fact didn’t phase him. He once broke his quite out-dated glasses during gym class, and he taped them up. I remember asking him when he was going to get them fixed or maybe a new pair. He had taped glasses for over a year.
Looking through my freshman yearbook, I notice Dominique provided me with the greatest signing. He wrote, “I got 3 pieces of advice for u
I.Have a great summer
II.Be ready for football
III.Stay out of trouble
Dominique “DJ D-Nice” Holloway
What a character! Dominique’s small frame didn’t handle another year of football. I remember a few of us trying to convince him to keep trying, but we all knew he’d never play a down on varsity. He kept plugging away at school, however. I’m not sure he ever got another pair of pants all for himself. I remember at the senior awards night he got a full scholarship to a college for pre-med and cool little medical knife kit from a few of the teachers. I can’t tell you he became a doctor—I just don’t know. Maybe he had too much stacked against him for too many years. Maybe he’s healing people in some other way right now. I can only hope so.