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Hayden Large lives up to his name despite injury

Posted: 11:10 PM, Nov 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-20 23:11:03-05

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. -- Hayden Large lived up to his name last fall helping Unity Christian to its first football state championship in school history.

"It is indescribable kind of," Large said. "It was such a surreal year and everybody just came together and it was pretty special to be part of that and play in that."

The success only made him hungrier.

"Repeat," Large stated when asked how he wanted to follow up his junior season. "I want to do that all over again and get bigger stronger faster.'

Large put everything he had into it.

"I would go everyday," Large said about the weight room. "Saturday morning`s when everybody is sleeping I would go at seven am and just grind it out.'

Then came the end of the first week of practice in August.

"First play, call my number," Large recalled. "I was running, I cut, I hear a pop around my lower butt, higher hamstring area, go to the sideline, I can`t move at all.

His hamstring tore a piece of his pelvis completely off. His season was over, before it started.

"I felt more bad for the team," Large said. "I thought about the team I was like 'I can`t be there for my guys,' that was the first thing I did after I got told 'I was like I have to go to practice and tell my guys' and that probably one of the hardest things I`ve ever had to do.'

"It was pretty tough, a lot of tears, a lot of sad faces in the crowd."

"Those were difficult words to hear," 17th year Unity Christian head football coach Craig Tibbe said. "When he was standing there waiting to talk to me at practice, somebody comes up and says 'Hayden needs to talk to you' and you're like oh no."

Large has surgery in late August.  For five weeks he couldn't sit, he could only stand or lay on his right side.  He spent a lot of time in bed.

"I`m thinking a lot about football," Large said about his time laying. "I watched a lot of film, I was just focusing on that, focusing on beating Allendale, Godwin, that kind of saved me honestly. If I didn`t have football, I don`t know what I`d do."

He said that he did not allow depression to creep in.

"It goes through your head." Large said. "But just knowing that it is not what happens, it`s how you react to it and just trying to stay strong and that God has a plan for you."

"You can play all the scenarios in your head," senior linebacker and tight end Austin Schuiteman said. "If he was here this would happen and this would have happened but he has been a great role model for the younger guys off the field and even us seniors as well and we are really thankful that he is there for us still."

Large has attended every game. Once he could sit again, he was going to practice too. When the team won the regional championship last Friday, he accepted the trophy.

"That is a pretty special moment," Large said. "Knowing that everybody is watching and everybody is focused and it was just cool to have coach Tibbe say go get the trophy and have my teammates all surround me.