The four surgical scars on Austin Daming’s left knee are permanent reminders of his high school football career.
Each tells a story of how Daming, a linebacker/defensive end at Center Grove, would sustain an injury, work his way back and then get hurt again.
Daming, a 6-foot, 220-pound senior, is determined to erase all previous bad fortune by being one of the defensive leaders this season for the Trojans, last year’s Class 6A runner-up.
“It was tough going to practice three straight years and watching from the stands for two state championship games,” Daming said. “Growing up with Center Grove football, it’s just a different atmosphere.
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“A lot of (coming back) is my teammates and how supportive they’ve been. I’ve tried to stay optimistic and believe that there’s a plan.”
A day after dressing varsity for the Trojans’ 14-13 victory at Whiteland in 2014, Daming was carrying the football in the next day’s freshman game against the Warriors when he suffered a torn meniscus after a tackle sent him out of bounds.
He missed the remainder of the season.
Daming took part in Center Grove’s first three varsity games as a sophomore, but again found himself in spectator mode after undergoing anterior cruciate ligament surgery. He sat out the rest of the 2015 season, which was capped by the Trojans winning the Class 6A state title.
During summer workouts preceding his junior season, Daming tore his meniscus again, but made it back to record a career-best three tackles in a 51-14 romp against North Central. After that game, the meniscus was removed altogether in surgery.
In three seasons, Daming has played in four varsity games.
Daming, a 4.0 student who ranks in the top fifth of his class, could have quit football and used the extra time in other areas.
“That thought has crossed me and his mother’s (Jenny) mind, but you cannot talk that kid out of anything,” said Joe Daming, Austin’s father. “That includes football, school or the hogs he shows (Austin was grand champion at the 2014 and 2015 Johnson County 4-H and Agricultural Fair).”
This spring, Daming made it back in time to compete in the shot put and discus for Center Grove’s track and field program. He capped it with a personal-best shot put of 53 feet, 3 3/4 inches at the Warren Central Regional to qualify for the State Finals at Indiana University.
Daming didn’t perform as well as he hoped at state, placing 17th with a best of 49-8½, but benefits to this day from the confidence he gained from such a successful postseason.
“It was huge,” he said. “It was a great experience to prepare for next season.”
As the school’s football and boys track coach, Eric Moore has been present for the bad, as well as the good, in Daming’s high school athletic career.
Daming, who is leaning toward attending Purdue University and majoring in agricultural engineering, wants to just once be chasing opposing ball carriers through an entire Trojans’ varsity football season.
Any additional successes in track would be the ideal conclusion to his career.
“Austin was one of our franchise freshmen who was likely going to be on the field as a sophomore starter,” Moore remembered. “He has such a tremendous work ethic and is such a smart, tough kid.
“Now I just get caught up in watching him because it’s such a feel-good story. If he can get through all of this preseason work, he’s going to be a huge bonus for us this season.”
Family: Parents Joe and Jenny; sisters Shalee, 19, and Audrey, 7
Favorite TV show: “Fast and Loud”
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite movie: “Remember the Titans”
Favorite athlete: Joey Bosa
Favorite team: Purdue University football