His family had been there to cheer him from the sidelines for every football game of his high school career — even through the famous Hurricane Joaquin game against Seaford in 2015.
But until the DRFC Blue-Gold All-Star football game on Saturday, June 17, recent Indian River High School graduate Griffin McCormick had never had his family there with him in the locker room during halftime.
“That’s when I realized that the Blue-Gold wasn’t going to be like any other game I had ever played in before,” said McCormick with a laugh. “It was definitely different, as a player, to spend halftime with your whole entire family.”
Lightning storms had caused a near two-hour delay at the annual All-Star game, held at the University of Delaware, sending players and spectators alike into UD’s Indoor Field House to take cover.
Even after some cancelation chatter amongst officials, however, the weather finally cleared for families to head back to the stands, and for McCormick and his Gold Team teammates to head back to the field on their way to an eventual 44-0 victory over the Blue Team.
An All-Conference selection for the Indians at left tackle this past season, last Saturday, McCormick got the chance to line up on defense as an outside linebacker and take snaps on special teams while going up against some of the top players in the state in his final career game on the gridiron.
“I can’t compare anything to that feeling of running out on the University of Delaware football field on Saturday,” he said of the experience. “I will definitely remember that for a lifetime. It made me proud of how hard I had worked since I started playing football my freshman year.”
A captain during his senior season, McCormick was the sole football player selected from IR for the week long All-Star event, designed for players excelling not only on the field but setting an example off the field as well.
After being selected, he was honored to join IR Ambassadors Maggie Ford and Sammi Whelen, as well as Chance Kamin and Rachel Burke from the Indians’ state-champion cheerleading squad, to represent their school.
“It’s definitely an honor to be able to represent Indian River at an event such as Blue-Gold,” McCormick said, “especially considering all of the great players that have participated over the years and from both IR and across the state.”
“It’s a great accomplishment and honor to be a part of the Blue-Gold game,” said IR head coach Phil Townsend. “We knew, as a coaching staff, that Griff would represent us well — he’s just a great character player. As one of our team captains, he has always represents our team to the best of his ability.”
During the week, Blue-Gold participants get the chance to team up with a “Buddy” from the Hand-in-Hand program to participate in a variety of activities leading up to game day.
Despite still attending two-a-day practices, team meetings and daily lectures from guest speakers, for McCormick, it was the friendships that he developed through Hand-in-Hand and with his Blue-Gold teammates throughout the week that set the experience apart.
“Right before the game kicks off, there is a really cool moment where all of the Buddies come out onto the field and spend some time with the players and the cheerleaders, band members and ambassadors,” he said. “No one’s worried about tackles or the score. Everyone’s just about having fun. And I definitely think has taught the rest of us a lot.
“One of the best parts about this week was getting the opportunity to meet so many of the familiar faces that I’ve been playing against and considered opponents over the past four years. Some of those guys I had even been playing against since Little League All-Stars baseball, but by the end of the week, there was no doubt that we all considered each other teammates and we will all definitely keep in touch in the future.”
While he may now consider some of his former rivals to be his Blue-Gold family, after his final career game, McCormick said it was the support from his family always cheering him on from the bleachers — and recently cheering him on from the locker room — as well as his football family at IR, that helped him get there.
“I will always be thankful for my family, teammates and all the coaches who have helped me grow as football player and as a person,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better week to end my football career on.”