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Group A, Div. 3 Football: Playoff pressure? It’s kid stuff to JM’s Dit

SUDANESE REFUGEE HAS SEEN TOO MUCH

IN YOUNG LIFE TO SWEAT A KICK

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

THE FREE LANCE–STAR

As James Monroe football coach Rich Serbay yelled “field goal” in the fourth quarter of the Group AA, Division 3 semifinals Saturday, David Dit sprinted onto the field.

The Yellow Jackets’ junior kicker wasn’t the least bit fazed that his team was trailing 20–10 in the final four minutes and its season was on the line.

    DIVISION 3 FINAL

    James Monroe (12–1) vs. Brookville (13–0)

    WHEN: Saturday, noon

    WHERE: Williams Stadium, Liberty University, Lynchburg

    RADIO: A live audio broadcast is available on City Cable Channel 18.

“He came running on the field faster than I’ve ever seen him run,” Serbay said.

Dit’s 41-yard field goal energized the Yellow Jackets as they went on to complete a thrilling comeback with a 37–30 three-overtime victory over Kettle Run.

Dit calmly kicked a school-record three field goals to propel the Yellow Jackets (12–1) into a state championship game matchup with Brookville (13–0) on Saturday at Liberty University.

Serbay said the pressure of 3,000 fans watching in Maury Stadium was nothing for the 6-foot-5 refugee from Sudan—a place where more than 2 million people died in a civil war that lasted from 1983 to 2005.

Dit lived under true pressure in his native country, including an experience in which he watched men point guns to the heads of his mother and younger sister.

“Sometimes you’re a product of your environment,” Serbay said. “If you live in a tough environment it makes you a tougher person. He lived in a tough environment and had to survive day to day. Sometimes that makes you tougher when it comes down to pressure situations.”

Dit arrived in Virginia when he was 9 years old, not long after the war ended. He said that after the gunmen freed his family and walked away with food, clothes and pots, his mother wanted to leave the country.

Elizabeth Achol–Ajack applied for refugee status and it was granted. She traveled to Virginia with Dit, her two daughters and a family friend. They first lived in Spotsylvania County, but later moved to Heritage Park Apartments in Fredericksburg.

“It’s a great place to live,” Dit said. “Some people look at it like it’s the ghetto, but a lot of people in Sudan would sacrifice their life to come here just to live in Heritage Park. It might not be much to a lot of people around here, but to me it’s a lot, and I’m thankful for that.”

When Dit lived in Spotsylvania, he attended Parkside and Courtland elementary schools. He enrolled in courses in English as a second language to learn how to speak to his teachers and classmates.

Athletics also helped him thrive in his new surroundings. When he played soccer for Fredericksburg Parks & Recreation, Walker–Grant Middle School football coach Romel Turner noticed he had a strong leg.

“He told me and my friend to come out and play American football,” Dit said. “We had seen it on TV, but we didn’t play it much. So he asked us to do the easiest position, I guess.”

Dit said kicking was natural to him.

Serbay said Dit, who has set a school record with 10 field goals this season, is one the best kickers the program has ever had.

And on a team with a thinner margin of error than many before it at JM, the development of Dit (also a JM soccer standout) has been critical.

“He’s got a tremendous leg, but sometimes he doesn’t seem as serious about the sport as we would like him to be,” said JM assistant coach Val Folden, who works individually with Dit. “But he can absolutely kick that ball.”

Dit said he had discipline problems in Sudan, but now has a new perspective on life. He said his goal is to attend college—not as a kicker, but as a student.

“I count myself as one of the luckiest people on earth because for one I’m here and for two I have opportunities that people in my country don’t,” Dit said. “I’m very thankful for that. I’m just very thankful for life. I don’t take anything for granted.”

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/sports/2012/12/04/prep-football-playoff-pressure-its-kid-stuff-to-jms-dit/

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