WILMINGTON – If you are attending Thursday morning’s Thanksgiving Day clash between Wilmington and Tewksbury, you probably won’t see a whole lot of number 57 and 60 for the Wildcats on the field. Those numbers belong to seniors David (57) and Daniel (60) Ings, twin brothers, and reserve offensive and defensive linemen for Wilmington High.
But, while the amount of game action the duo will actually see might be in question, rest assured that regardless of how much they actually play, they have most definitely played a key role in getting the Wildcats prepared to square off against the Redmen, just as they have done for every Wildcats opponent over the past three seasons.
Wilmington coach Craig Turner knows firsthand just how valuable the Ings brothers have been and continue to be to his team, and he has come to truly appreciate what they have meant to the football program.
“They are what I call program kids. They don’t see the field too much, but I would be hard pressed to get anything done around here without those kids,” Turner said. “They are on every single scout team. They help get us ready every week for our opponents. They are leaders in the locker room. The other kids look up to them and respect them.”
And it is not just on the practice field that the Ings brothers have made to the Wilmington Football program. They are also the ultimate Wildcats, doing whatever they can to help the team off the field as well.
“For the last three years anything and everything we have ever asked these kids to do, they have done it,” Turner said. “If we need kids to volunteer with Pop Warner they are down there, if we need kids to volunteer for Police Night Out, they are there. They are just wonderful kids and they do whatever we ask of them.”
And by the way, the Ings brothers do all of this for the football team, while also being members of the Wilmington High Marching Band. On Friday nights at Wilmington High, just before halftime, Wildcats fans got used to seeing the familiar site of Daniel and David (along with fellow band members Nathan Curdo and younger brother Michael Ings) getting out of their shoulder pads and into their band uniforms as they prepared for the halftime show.
“Over the years we have pretty much gotten it down to a science,” said Daniel, who is a drummer with the band. “Usually I will go up to the band room and make sure all of stuff is in line, along with Nathan, and then we come down here and get ready for football. At halftime somebody brings the drums on the field for me.”
“We all, when it starts getting close to halftime, when the clock is winding down we take our shoulder pads, or at least the drummers take off their shoulder pads,” David added. “Sometimes I keep mine on. Basically, we grab our instruments, we go and do the halftime show and then when it is all over we go back with the team.”
Sounds simple enough on game night, but of course the commitment to both activities goes a lot further than just game night. Being a part of either program would keep any high school student busy enough, but being a part of both takes a special kind of commitment.
“A lot of times they will leave football practice and go right to a two hour band practice, so they put a lot of time in. It is quite a commitment,” Turner said. “These kids never miss a minute. They are never not here, they are here every single day. I know they take a challenging course load here, and even at the beginning of the season when they have to miss time during camp for band camp, they make sure to come and see me before they leave to get practice plans and weight lifting plans so they don’t miss a beat, They come back and it was like they never left.”
That commitment to the football team will of course come to an end on Thursday morning, and while both brothers are looking forward to game day, they also realize there will be some mixed emotions heading into the game.
“It’s a little bittersweet. It’s good that we are playing and it will be a of fun, but at the same time, it is kind of sad because it is our last game. Overall though, I think it will be fun. We are getting excited for our last game,” David said. “We are hoping to go out and win, but even if we can’t win I want us to go out and play well and have a good showing”
Daniel echoed his brother’s sentiments, adding “It’s tough to handle in a way, but hopefully it will be good game. We want to give Tewksbury a good shot, and hopefully we will get some playing time as well.”
It will of course be a challenge for the 4-7 Wildcats to knock off the 10-2 Redmen, probably their biggest challenge of the season, but the Ings brothers know they have will have done all they can to help their teammates be prepared for the big challenge.
“We definitely take a lot of pride in that,” David said. “We want to do whatever we can to help the team get ready for the next game. We try to do that to the best of our abilities.”
As much pride as the brothers take in helping their teammates prepare for each game, it can be a little difficult to put in all of that hard work week after week and not see a lot of playing times on game night. But Turner says that the brothers have never wavered in their commitment.
“They really, really work hard at it. The reason they probably don’t see as much playing time is that they are a little undersized. But they lift as hard as any other kid in the program all year long.” Turner said. “They are both in the band and have many other commitments, but they always make lifting and getting ready for football a priority. We would really be lost without kids like that in the program.”
For David and Daniel, putting in all of the hard work without seeing the reward of increased playing time isn’t ideal, but it is also something that they do not regret, as they have truly enjoyed their time as Wildcats.
“It’s not one hundred percent about going out on Friday night and playing under the light,” David said. “It is about being part of a team, and playing together and being a part of the camaraderie with your teammates.”
“By the end of the season, it can get kind of tiresome, because you get the little bumps and bruises that never really heal during the season,” Daniel said. “But it is just a fun sport to play. You get to come out here and have a good time. There is a camaraderie to it. It’s just an enjoyable process”
Adding to their enjoyment this season has been the addition of their younger brother Michael, a freshman offensive and defensive lineman, to the Wildcats roster. The older brothers have enjoyed having Michael with the team this season and are looking forward to continuing to watch him in the future.
“It’s definitely nice to watch him play and learn and really become a part of the team,” David said. “We have gone against each other a few times, and that has been fun. You can see that he is going to grow and improve a lot as he gets older.”
Daniel adds that the youngest of the Ings brothers may very well see the field more than he and David did during their careers.
“It’s been really nice to have him, and seeing him play,” he said. “He is a little bigger than we were at his age, so hopefully he is going to be able to play a lot as he gets older.”
With any luck David and Daniel will also get a chance to play a lot come Thanksgiving morning. Turner says he is hoping that is the case, but regardless of how much time they actually see, Turner will be appreciative of what they have done all season and throughout their careers.
“They are extraordinary kids. They might be spreading themselves too thin with all of the stuff they do, but they are able to handle it, because they are excellent kids,” Turner said. “We are going to miss them. My hope is that we can get them out there for some significant playing time on Thursday.”