CGHS Defensive End, Austin Daming, Overcomes Injuries to Reap the Rewards In His Final Season
Writer / Matt Roberts
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Over the course of the 2014-2016 seasons, Center Grove High School played 41 varsity football games. By his own estimation, linebacker and defensive end, Austin Daming, played in only five of those due to knee injuries.
“I had four knee surgeries (before the fall of 2017), all on my left knee,” Daming says. “My senior year was the only time I got to play for a whole season.”
In 2017, Daming finally got to play a full schedule. He ended the year with more than 100 tackles and was named Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (MIC) Defensive Player of the Year.
How does a guy go from seeing action in only one game as a junior to all-conference the next season?
“Our coaches really prepare us well,” he says. “Our practices are very intense. It’s almost like a game setting. Playing football for Center Grove is completely different from other places. The expectations are to work hard every day. If we’re not in the final four it’s a let-down. As a kid, you grow up dreaming of playing football for Center Grove.”
As late as the summer of 2017, Center Grove head coach Eric Moore didn’t know how much he could count on his oft-injured linebacker.
“Before the season, the coaching staff talked about how the kid was playing on a new wheel and we had no idea how solid it was going to be,” Moore says. “So, we just assumed if he did play, we’d be getting a huge bonus.
“When he was ready to go before the season opener at Warren Central, I told him, ‘Warren Central has no idea what kind of built-up aggression they’re going against. You’ve been waiting four years to play this game.’
One wonders what kind of numbers Daming would have put up if not hobbled by injuries. Moore knew he had a special athlete coming up through the Center Grove system.
“I’ve known him since the second grade,” Moore says. “He was a competitor from second grade all the way up through junior Trojans. He was always the toughest, strongest kid at his level. He comes from a great family and has great character. He has such a passion for the game, but he still finds time for other activities, like track and FFA.
“He was always a hard worker who loved to practice,” he adds.
Even when he was on crutches – which was a greater percentage of the time than you’d wish on anybody – Daming stayed engaged in preparation and team activities.
Moore answers immediately when asked if he ever saw any signs of discouragement.
“No, no,” Moore says. “Austin had a really, really bad injury his freshman year. Like, career-ending bad. And that’s what he fought through over the next two years. It wasn’t a series of things, it was all related to that freshman year injury. And he still came to every meeting and every practice.”
“It was tough,” Daming admits. “But I had really good teammates and coaches who supported me. They were always giving me confidence that I could come back. And I’ve spent countless hours with really good trainers.”
The Trojans’ final game of 2017 was a regional semi-final against Avon. The Trojans not only lost the contest, but Daming found himself in familiar territory: limping off the field with yet another knee injury.
“It was the second defensive series against Avon, and I felt my knee give out,” he says. “I found out that I had a microfracture and a torn meniscus again. I had surgery on December 19, and I’ve been on crutches ever since. In mid-January I can wean myself off of those and then start physical therapy. I’ll do that until my quad muscle is the same size as the other one, because it’s shrunk drastically.”
Despite the late season injury, Daming is still drawing interest from college football programs. In early January, Marian University in Indianapolis offered him a scholarship.
“I’m keeping my options open,” Daming says. “I haven’t really decided. I’ve been offered by Morehead State and some Division III schools. But I’ve already told Morehead I probably won’t be going there. My final two options are probably Marian or trying to walk on at Purdue.”
Through all of the pain, surgeries and rehab, football has been a constant in Daming’s young life. And from now on, Coach Moore and the Center Grove staff can point to him as a gold standard for perseverance and overcoming adversity.