BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – Demond Seabrook’s story is a unique one. But it’s a story that’s not unique enough.
Seabrook’s story is an important story. It’s a story that needs to be told – and heard, as well.
Seabrook is a senior member of the Lebanon High School football team. But in addition to his gridiron responsibilities with the Cedars, his classroom responsibilities at Lebanon High School and his educational responsibilities at Lebanon County Career and Technology Center, where he’s learning masonry, Seabrook works part-time at a local McDonald’s.
Seabrook plays football for himself. He works to help support his family.
“First, I help my mom pay bills,” said Seabrook during a break in a recent Cedar football practice. “It’s hard with a single mother and two children. I’ll buy some school clothes for myself, or I’ll buy some clothes for my sister.
“I also try to save my money,” continued Seabrook. “We get paid every two weeks, but it seems like so long in between. I was tired of asking my mom for things. She works hard.”
Unfortunately, Seabrook is not alone in today’s scholastic sports world. But there does seem to be more Demond Seabrooks at Lebanon High School than at other school districts in Lebanon County.
A handful of Seabrook’s Cedar football teammates also work to help out their families financially, an occurrence which is fairly typical within the Lebanon football program.
“We probably have eight kids who are currently working during the football season,” said Lebanon head coach Gerry Yonchiuk. “That’s typical. That’s about right. We’ve had anywhere from five to nine (working football players) since I’ve been here.”
“I have my mood swings,” said Seabrook. “Sometimes I’m sore from football. I try to change my mindset when I get to McDonald’s. When I walk in, I try to leave everything else at the door.
“Football seems to be a non-stressful sport,” added Seabrook. “When you’re at football you hit people, and it takes the stress out of your body. I love the sport. It feels good.”
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Seabrook missed the Cedars’ weekly film session examining the prior Friday’s game. The film study was scheduled during his eight-hour shift at McDonald’s.
Seabrook works eight-hour shifts at McDonald’s every Saturday and Sunday. Before the start of the football camp over the summer, he worked full-time under The Golden Arches.
“Yeah, I like it,” said Seabrook. “It’s a good experience before college, just to see how you will do in general. When I’m at McDonald’s, sometimes I work on the grill. Sometimes I’m making sandwiches. Sometimes I help unload the truck. The managers are all nice. They’re all respectful, and I’m respectful back.
“Before football season started, I was going to quit at McDonald’s,” added Seabrook. “I think they (McDonald’s managers) were frustrated at first that I could only work weekends. But eventually they said, ‘We can work with you because you are playing a sport.”
“You have to work with them,” said Yonchiuk. “Some of our guys have to help out at home. I ask them to work with their managers. I’ll provide a schedule and sometimes call their managers. It’s a common theme.”
To say that Seabrook doesn’t get a lot of time to himself, well that would be an understatement.
“Do you mean personal time?,” said Seabrook. “If I really want to do something, I’ll do it after football practice. But I usually just rest my legs.
“I usually work to closing,” continued Seabrook. “When I work, I get six to eight hours of sleep before I wake up for school.”
‘He’s tremendous,” said Yonchiuk of Seabrook. “He always has a smile on his face. He has a great personality, and he’s a hard worker.”
So Seabrook’s circumstances have forced both Yonchiuk and McDonald’s management to be flexible. But neither are as flexible or adaptable as Seabrook himself.
“I’m a C-plus student,” said Seabrook, who wrestles for the Cedars in the winter. “I try to do the best I can in school, but sometimes I don’t get it. Sometimes I have to ask the teacher for help.
“I don’t do track (and field) any more,” continued Seabrook. “But I wrestle, and it’s tiring. Yeah, I’m going to go out for wrestling again, because I like the coaches, just like I like the football coaches.”
“It might be a little different at other schools,” said Yonchiuk. “It’s something we’ve had to understand and work with. It’s family-to-family. Every family situation is different. Some of our guys have to help out at home. We’re sharing them. We’ve got to share them.”
Beyond high school, Seabrook’s goals extend to Thadeus Stevens School of Technology in Lancaster. When he gets there, the time-management skills, work ethic and ability to cooperate within the confines of a team that he has developed through the Cedars’ football program and McDonald’s will serve him well.
“I’d like to go to Thadeus Stevens college,” said Seabrook. “Right now, I’m studying masonry at Lebanon County Career and Technology Center. When I was 12, a guy who lives across the street from us showed me how to do carpentry. I like carpentry. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to do carpentry because I can’t measure. I wanted to try masonry, just laying bricks.
“At Thadeus Stevens, they say when you graduate, you have a 91 percent chance of being hired,” Seabrook added. “I’d like to lay bricks, for the rest of my life, I guess.”
I sometimes hear members of older generations bad mouth today’s youth, and when I do, it makes me shudder. I always wonder if they know a person like Demond Seabrook, and if they do, whether or not it has the power to change their opinion.