I recall the first time I ever saw Dallas Hobbs; it was late August four years ago, he stood out standing in a line of pre-season football players waiting to receive their equipment from Norm and our trainers. Equipment fitting was the first step prior to boarding a Deerfield bus for our annual four-day preseason football camp, before returning to campus to start the week of new student orientation. He was tall, full of muscles, but was already talking it up with his new teammates and was all smiles as he began his post-graduate year at Deerfield. Coach Barbato had been telling me about Dallas for months and immediately I understood the coach’s enthusiasm for having Dallas on campus. He was going to help us win football games just by walking onto the playing field. He looked like a superb athlete just standing in the hallway that day. What I, and so many others, discovered in the coming months was that Dallas would contribute to Deerfield in countless other ways than just wearing a football uniform.
As many of us already know, Deerfield is a unique place. New students arrive on campus and are assigned a new level of expectations that even the most prepared do not expect. Dallas came to Deerfield wanting to be a football star and to play big-time college football after graduation. What might have surprised Dallas was how much the school, his coaches and his teachers were going to ask of him. He was a leader on the gridiron immediately and made his presence felt by every member on that team. Early on that September Dallas made it clear that he was “all in” at Deerfield. His passion for hard work, his positive approach to adversity, and his concern for others were evident on the field, in his dorm space, and in his classes. That year Dallas did well in his classes, played on three varsity teams, and had more friends than most students who were in their fourth year at Deerfield.
When our associate Dean of Students Kevin Kelly addresses the post-graduate group for the first time every year he will advise them to “be a bigger part of the community” and to do more here than you might have anticipated doing. It is the ethos of our program under his leadership and it is one of the reasons why Deerfield consistently carries a great post-graduate class. That year, Dallas was a leader on the team playing alongside four-year veterans and captains like Tommy Hale ‘17 and Brandon Scott ‘17. In the winter, Dallas decided to lift in the off-season and not be on a team sport. This decision proved to be an uncomfortable one for Dallas and after a couple of weeks he asked if he could join the basketball team. He was welcomed with open arms. In the spring season Dallas joined the track and field team and won the New England Championship in the shotput and placed second in the discus event.
In his classes at Deerfield things did not come together quite as easily. Coming from a very good high school in Iowa Dallas was already doing good things in his classes, but he found the academic rigor and pace at Deerfield to be elevated and it took a while for the adjustment to be made. The challenges were there for Dallas and we saw early on that he was someone who took pride in everything he decided to do. Football was a big part of his life, but Dallas was going to get the most out of his year at Deerfield and if that meant leaning into discomfort, then so be it. In the end, Dallas received a Division – I football scholarship to Pac-12 conference school, Washington State, where he is currently a red-shirt sophomore in the Cougars football program.
Today, Dallas has taken on new challenges and continues to make a difference in the lives of people around him. On March 26th Bryce Beekman, a cougar teammate and close friend of Dallas, died unexpectedly. Just days after his friend’s death, Dallas has been utilizing his off-field skills and is donating his time and effort to generate money for the Beekman Family. Dallas is a graphics design major at Washington State and has already created his own L.L.C. while maintaining a stellar 3.75 GPA Dallas recently tweeted, “I have created an order form for stickers to help the Beekman Family. There are 2 sticker options that will keep Bryce close. There are other sticker designs as well being made available. All proceeds will go directly to the Beekman Family.”
When I talked to Dallas last night he informed me that so many orders have been placed he had to temporarily shut down the site! “It’s a mix of everything: honoring Bryce, of course he’s a good friend, he’s a good friend of everyone, and he always showed love to everywhere around, and he always loved my designs.” Dallas has been making the graphics and handling all the financial burdens himself to ensure the Beekman Family gets all of the proceeds. Dallas tweeted out that he “topped a big figure in just six hours of his tweet with much, much more to come.”
During such a difficult time Dallas has chosen the high road and demonstrating a resiliency we can all be proud of. I know that when Mr. Kelly reads this Blog his chest will push out with pride. It is the kind of pride I see on Coach Barbato’s face every time he hears the mention of players he’s coached like a Dallas Hobbs. When I asked Dallas what his favorite Deerfield memory was he responded quickly with recalling all the time spent in the dorm with his friends and how community was held in such high regard here at Deerfield. “I was only on that campus for 8 months and some of my closest friends in life are from that year.”
How we treat one another, both in good times and in hard times, are at the core of being “worthy”. It was so nice to reconnect with Dallas, and to revisit his stay with us. His story is a good reminder of what we are all capable of doing and you don’t need headlines to make a difference in the lives of others. Be a good friend, look for ways to solve things, and don’t be afraid to try new things. You might surprise yourself! Thank you Dallas for doing the right thing when you didn’t have to!
Don’t hesitate to reach out and say hi to Dallas (Dallas Hobbs: @Dhobbs92)! If you don’t know him, reach out anyway. His response will make you glad you did.