Never give up.
Sam Daugstrup is living proof that if you keep the faith in the face of adversity, good things will happen.
Despite suffering season-ending injuries before his junior season and in the middle of his senior year, Daugstrup will play Big 10 college football.
Daugstrup has accepted an opportunity to play at Indiana University.
"It was a tough process. Any kid who has gone through a recruiting process will tell you that," Daugstrup said. "At the end of the day, it comes down to my relationship with the coaches at Indiana, the campus, the education. It was an easy choice when you consider all of those factors."
Daugstrup's journey began as a freshman. He entered the football program as a 6'4, 215-pound tight end and defensive lineman. Immediately, the coaching staff saw promise in the young man. A year later, Daugstrup found himself on the varsity squad.
As a sophomore, Daugstrup made a significant impact as a big tight end, equally adept at catching passes as opening running lanes on the edge. Daugstrup served as a lethal weapon in double tight end sets.
Entering his junior season, Daugstrup looked poised for an even bigger year. But then injury struck. During the summer at an Ohio State camp, Daugstrup suffered a non-contact injury, tearing his ACL. The injury ended his junior season before it started, keeping him sidelined all year, including through the spring during lacrosse season.
In the meantime, Daugstrup worked hard to rehab and prepare for his senior season. He learned from leaders such as Jack Jamieson '18 and Tommy Eichenberg '19.
His work paid off, as Daugstrup returned to action in August.
Daugstrup played a big role for the Wildcats at the start of the season. An athletic and physical player at tight end, Daugstrup opened running lanes and hauled in several passes. With the Wildcats at 1-1 entering Week 3, the coaching staff decided to utilize him even more. Daugstrup played both ways against Archbishop Hoban at both tight end and defensive line. He made a huge impact, tabbing two tackles and helping to slow the Knights' rushing attack.
Then, Daugstrup was dealt a crushing blow in Week 4 in Maryland. The big man suffered a season-ending injury to another body part.
Even amidst such great adversity, he's kept the faith.
Nothing will stop Daugstrup from achieving his lifelong dream.
"The injuries have been the hardest part of my life. What gets me through it is my faith, most importantly, and the will to never give up on my dreams," Daugstrup. "I've wanted to play Big 10 football since I was a little kid. I was never going to let that dream get away from me, despite having two season-ending injuries."
His coach, Chuck Kyle '69, has watched Daugstrup fight through the injuries with courage.
Kyle is quite proud of his senior tight end.
"There's been a couple of hurdles in the road. It was crushing to him," said Coach Kyle. "He wanted to be with his teammates and play. But I think he handled it very maturely. People should appreciate a young man at that age getting through adversity. As a sophomore, you have all these colleges calling and offering you, and talking to you. And you battle back from an injury, and then here's this other thing. But he's handling it. Not many people can. He's a great teammate and a young man, too. He's always there to encourage his teammates, at practice and at games, to show his support."
Despite the injuries, Daugstrup's future is bright.
As Indiana has realized, Daugstrup's best football days could be ahead of him. With a growing frame, Daugstrup could fill out and become a special player. His potential is limitless.
"I've always told colleges that he's got a huge ceiling for improvement. He's got a lot of potential," said Coach Kyle. "Indiana has been working with him all along, and there's opportunity for him with what they do offensively.
"Athletically, he impresses everyone. He has size, and he's only going to get bigger. He's still filling out, he's going to be a big guy. He has nice athleticism. That intrigues a lot of colleges. They can see that he's not a lineman who you throw the ball to once in a while. He can move around, block, and stretch the defense with his athleticism. That's how most people at the collegiate level view him."
A host of colleges found Daugstrup's ability special. But Indiana stuck out above the rest.
The Hoosiers are thriving in the third season under head coach Tom Allen, with a 5-2 record. Allen's coaching staff, the campus, and Indiana's business program all appealed to Daugstrup.
"It's really awesome there," Daugstrup said. "Their program is heading in the right direction."
Daugstrup will also have a fellow Ignatian at Indiana, as Sean Wracher '19 is the team's starting long snapper. Dameon Willis Jr. '14 also played for the Hoosiers from 2014-18 before graduating with a media degree.
Daugstrup is happy to have a fellow Wildcat in the program.
Because for Daugstrup, Saint Ignatius football has had a huge impact on his life.
"Saint Ignatius football has been the most influential thing in my life, without a doubt. Being a part of the team since freshman year, and having the opportunity to play varsity as a sophomore, I've learned about leadership, hard work, and finding family with those not in my actual family," Daugstrup said. "Another thing I've learned is hard work. That's the most important thing I've learned since coming in. Working out with guys like Jack Jamieson and Tommy Eichenberg, you learn from those guys. You hope to become someone like them, and a role model for others. This football program has changed my life."
Likewise, many here at Saint Ignatius have enjoyed watching Sam grow into an excellent young man.
Offensive Coordinator Nick Restifo Hon. 19 is very excited for Daugstrup's future.
"I'm so excited for Sam. He's worked so hard to get healthy," Restifo said. "He was just getting to 100%, and he was so excited, and then boom. It's a shame because he worked so hard. I'm glad they're giving him an opportunity. I think his best football is ahead of him, he has high-end potential. I'm so happy for him."
While Daugstrup's career with the Wildcats is at an end, he's still been supporting the team in any way he can.
Off the field, Daugstrup looks forward to enjoying the rest of his time at Saint Ignatius.
"I want to stay on top of my work academically. I'm going to continue to work hard in the weight room," Daugstrup said. "That's one of the most important goals. I'm going to enjoy the rest of my time here, because it's been special."
Before he heads to Bloomington, he has many people to thank.
"I have so many people to thank, too many to list here," Daugstrup said. "None of it would be possible with Coach Kyle and Coach Restifo, my family, friends, and teammates."