RIDGEFIELD – Connor Delamarter knows this weekend’s playoff game could be his last game of football.
He hopes this is not the case. He will be hoping the Ridgefield Spudders beat Squalicum on Saturday and advance to the 2A State Semi-Finals.
And he also hopes that the right opportunity to play college football will present itself.
But there’s no need to remind the senior linebacker in every league to get the most out of every game or every moment with his teammates on the pitch.
He’s been doing this in every game since his doctor told Delamarter four years ago that he might have played his last game.
That day, Delamarter was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart wall that can make it harder for the heart to pump blood. It often goes undiagnosed because the disease has no symptoms.
Doctors suspected Delamarter had the disease when he was a baby. But that could only be confirmed when her heart reached its adult form.
That day came when Delamarter was playing eighth grade football at Alki High School.
“It was game day,” Delamarter recalls. “They did all these tests on me, which I didn’t understand. I just wanted to get to my game. I wanted to play soccer. But after they were done, my cardiologist said, “Connor, I’m going to put you on a heart monitor.” And I was confused. Like, how am I going to play with a heart monitor turned on? “
“And then these are the words that I will remember for the rest of my life. “Connor, I’m going to need you to take a break from football for a while. “”
The words hit him like a blind tackle.
“It was just a shock – a shock.” said Delamarter. “I remember trying to hold back my tears, but they flowed. The game I had worked on for so long, all my life, was taken away from me like this. It was really hard.
Even now, the memory brings back a flood of emotions.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said, gathering his composure. “It was such a strange experience. It was just a direct shock. Because until this point in my life I had never felt anything, like something was wrong. I was like ‘Really? I have this? ‘ “
His parents told him about the heart disease he had when he was a baby, but he figured it was something he got past because he had never felt any symptoms.
The interruption from football and other physical activities lasted for five months. Delamarter spent the first month wearing a heart monitor. Then he underwent a litany of stress tests, EKGs, ultrasounds, all to determine the severity of the condition.
Then finally, Delamarter got the green light to resume football, first from his cardiologist and then from his parents, Ryan and Julie Delamarter.
“My parents, God bless them,” Delamarter said. “At first they told me that maybe I wouldn’t play football anymore. But then they could look me in the eye and see how important football was to me. So they did everything to get me back. And my cardiologist did everything he could, and I’m really grateful to them.
Delamarter’s first comeback game was the first of his freshman season – at King’s Way Christian High School.
“That first freshman game against Elma – I feel like it was yesterday – it was my first comeback game,” he said. “At the moment, I wasn’t thinking about my heart disease. I was just thinking about beating Elma. … But after the game I sat down and thought, “I’m back. “
After his second year at King’s Way, the school suspended its football program. Delamarter enrolled in Ridgefield High School and started playing with the Spudders during last winter’s COVID season.
“I never thought I would be here,” Delamarter said. “I thought I would do the same, but with the King’s Way Knights. But, I’m telling you what, I wouldn’t trade that for nothing. This city, this program, this team. I love these guys to death, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It was all part of the plan. I ended up being in Ridgefield, and I love it here. It’s a dream come true.
Delamarter says when he’s on the pitch he is focused on what he needs to do. At the same time, he must also be aware of his condition. And the defibrillator on the sidelines in every practice and every game serves as a constant reminder.
“I actually developed a lot of health anxiety,” he said. “There are times when it goes through my mind. But I just have to be like ‘If I really feel something, I’ll let my coaches know.’ I know my body. I know how I’m supposed to feel.
Delamarter says he’s received a few offers to play college football, and he’s hoping for more. But he is also applying to schools where he would not play football.
“If that ends up happening, so much the better,” Delamarter said. “But if I don’t, and the best place for me is a place where I don’t play football, that’s fine. I’ll go where the Lord takes me.
The experience gave him a great perspective on life. He now knows that there is more to life than football, more to Connor Delamarter than football.
But he also knows he can’t waste a moment on the pitch with his teammates.
“Every week I go” you know I could play college football. But what if not? “He said.” This could be my last football game. … It will be heartbreaking when that last game takes place, whether it’s this week or three weeks from now at Sparks Stadium (in Puyallup) for the World Cup title game. ‘State. That’s the plan. I’ve always thought about it, since the start of this year. And it’s taught me to take it one day at a time, one game at a time. Because nothing is guaranteed.