St. John's Eagles Football '07

Perseverance pays off for Prep's Bergeron

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Monday, November, 26 By Jean DePlacido

Injuries have plagued Dick Bergeron throughout his high school career at St. John's Prep. But not once did the 6-foot-1, 285-pound senior two-way tackle from Bradford ever doubt he would play again.

Bergeron's dream came true Nov. 4 when the Eagles hosted Malden Catholic on Senior Day.

After not having played in an actual game since his freshman year, Bergeron was serenaded with chants of "Dick, Dick" by his Eagles' teammates as they walked back to the locker room after their 35-6 win over the Lancers.

"At the end of the game, the coaches named me MVP," said Bergeron, who wants to continue playing football at the college level. "It felt great to finally get back."

The 17-year old Bergeron needed three hip surgeries during his time at St. John's | and is facing another next month when the plate and screws will be taken out.

He was a very promising football prospect after winning the Outstanding Sportsmanship Award as a seventh grader in the Haverhill Middle School League and playing for the travel team the following year.

But things fell apart with two games remaining in his freshman year at St. John's after Bergeron developed hip dysplasia and couldn't even sit in his classes without extreme discomfort.

Dr. Michael Millis at Children's Hospital in Boston performed surgery to rotate his left femur and realign it in the hip socket in February 2005. The following December, after missing his entire sophomore season of football, Bergeron had the plate and screws removed.

Since Dr. Millis had told him he could play football again, Bergeron went to camp and pushed to get back on the field. He was doing leg presses with 600-pound weights and back at conditioning camp preparing for his junior year when the unthinkable happened | his right hip gave out.

"I was running sprints during the first captain's practice and fell," said Bergeron. "I was afraid it might be the same thing but tried to walk it off, hoping for the best."

Once again, Dr. Millis was consulted and performed the same procedure. Bergeron spent 10 days in the hospital followed by using a walker, then crutches and finally a cane all over again. The doctor recommended a sports-training physical therapist, Dan Connors from Jumpstart Physical Therapy in Natick and Bergeron drove there faithfully, twice a week. He also went to Choice Fitness in Haverhill on the off-days and was soon leg pressing over 400 pounds with the hardware still in his hip.

"He has had tough, tough injuries, but didn't miss a practice during that long time unless he had therapy," said Prep coach Jim O'Leary. "Dick came to camp and contributed even when he wasn't playing, because he loves the game. We're very proud of him, and the kids were excited when he got the opportunity to play.

"It's a wonderful story; one we are all inspired by. Really, it is kind of a miracle to have him back. Not many kids these days want to be an equipment manager when they are hurt, but he was always there."

There was never a time when Bergeron wondered if his career was over. The desire to return was too strong, and O'Leary made sure doctors had cleared him of any risk of further injury before allowing him to play.

"I am completely dedicated to football with a lineman's build," said Bergeron. "I was able to get my freshman number back (72) again, and even though Thanksgiving was bittersweet knowing my high school career is over, it's nice to be part of the rivalry (with Xaverian). I had my family there to support me through it all."

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