Chris and Chuks
Trinity Head Football Coach Jeff Devanney describes both of his starting defensive linemen, Chris Doval and Chuks Ekwelum, as leaders on the 2009 Bantams, and both have flourished in the classromm with g.p.a’s above 3.0… but the similarities stop there. According to Devanney, Doval is a tri-captain and an interior lineman who tends to lead by example, while Ekwelum is a "vocal leader" from his end position. When it comes to the classroom, Ekwelum and Doval share a similar level of commitment, even if their majors, creative writing and economics, respectively) are as different as can be. Doval had economics in the back of his mind when he arrived on campus, and the introductory course was all it took to cement his decision; Ekwelum, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. His mother wanted him to go into the sciences, but his lifelong passion for reading and writing steered him toward creative writing, and his mom ultimately supported hid decision. No matter the major, it can be a challenge for any Trinity student to juggle the demands of a full academic schedule, but these two have turned time management to an art form.
Doval compares learning to managing responsibilities with the demands of football: " everything is always set around time… you need to be at certain places on time, and be prepared." Preparation is a virtue that Doval clearly values, as he stresses its importance in all facets of his life, including football, schoolwork, and the demands of being the treasurer for his fraternity, Alpha Chi Rho. For Ekwelum, procrastination used to be his Achilles heel: "Fortunately, I dropped this habit freshman year. When I get an assignment now, I’ll immediately begin to at least think about it and then start a rough draft instead of putting it all off to the last minute."
Doval and Ekwelum come together in their obvious love for the game of football, both naming the prestige of Trinity’s program in their reasons for ultimately choosing the school. What Doval enjoys most is the camaraderie of the team. According to Chris, there’s nothing better than giving all you have for your teammates and knowing they’re going to return the favor. Ekwelum sees football as sort of a microcosm of life, pointing out that the game teaches important values such as discipline and overcoming adversity. However, Coach Devanney talks about the way Chuks has overcome more than his share of obstacles: "He is a great example of what hard work combined with ability can accomplish both academically and in football."
Both players have tremendous of respect for their coach, whose first season at Trinity coincided with theirs, making this year’s senior class the first that Devanney will have coached throughout their careers. Doval emphasized Devanney’s ability to keep the team "all on the same page," while Ekwelum values Devanney’s ability to give quality advice, despite the varying backgrounds and experiences of himself and his players.
Both defensive linemen are enjoying spectacular seasons individually, while the team is obviously enjoying its usual success with four wins in its first four games. The pair have combined t=for 7.5 tackles for loss and Doval recently had three sacks in a win against Hamilton. The defensive front, which they anchor along with sophomores Herman Brito and Gary Williams, has helped Trinity rank second in the nation in rushing defense and third nationally in sacks. When asked where he saw the season going, Doval answered: "I see the season going very well, you can’t complain about being undefeated, but we still have to be focused on the end goal which is to win another NESCAC title without a loss." Ekwelum once again referred back to his personal values: "As long as we keep playing hard and smart, we will be back-to-back champs without a doubt. No other team in this league works as hard as we do. We went 8-0 and now we’re 4-0. That’s all that has to be said."
Chuks on Chris: "Simply put, I love Chris like a brother. Just like me, he has a winning attitude which is why we work so well with each other. Whenever I'm down, he picks me up. Whenever he's down, I pick him up. We battle on that field together every day. Whether we're on the sidelines waiting to go in for the next play or getting water during a break, you will find #55 and #95 standing next to each other. I know that our relationship on the field is so great because of the friendship we have off it. I will never forget our first conversation four years ago. It was a random talk about our faith in God and how someday we would dominate this league. I knew he would be someone I'd become very good friends with. He's a great guy."
Chris on Chuks: "Playing alongside Chuks these last few years has been great, since freshman year we have always backed each other up when we play on the field. We look to each other when we need support and we fire one another up before every game. He is like a brother to me and has a strong faith in God which has bonded us even more. Our faith has carried us far in football and off the field as well."