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Rogers’ football team captain staying positive

Joe Everson Correspondent

Talk with Rogers High School football captain Dorian Vaughn for a few minutes, and don’t be surprised if the last thing you talk about is football.

And by the end of the conversation, you can’t help but wonder what this kid will be doing in 10, or 20 or 30 years.

He’s an all-around high achiever whose self-assurance is balanced by his humility, and who talks over and over about “doing the right thing.”

His athletic career began in first grade at Jump Rope Academy, and the high school part of it will conclude this fall on the gridiron and next spring on the Rogers track, or more likely at the State 4A championship meet, if the Pirates meet Vaughn’s expectations.

He’s in Advanced Placement classes, Honors Choir (where he’s been an officer for three years) and the Praise and Worship group at his church, Lighthouse Tabernacle. He’s also vice president of the Rogers Associated Student Body. And in his spare time, what there is of it, he has a part-time job and baby-sits.

“I like that pace,” he said. “My life right now is school, football, homework, then relax for a while. I work on the weekends and do some ASB stuff during the week. I know if I’m not busy, there’s a good chance I’ll be doing something I shouldn’t.”

How does he keep all those balls in the air?

“I kind of use my homework to measure whether I’m trying to do too much. If I can’t get it finished by a reasonable hour, then I know I need to cut back on some things.”

He especially enjoys the one-on-one opportunities he has to help others, and many of those chances come during football season, when the Pirates endure more than their share of struggles.

“I try to tell the others that adversity is part of life, and dealing with it is where your character comes out,” he said. “Dealing with it in a positive way helps you to get better and stronger. One of my coaches told me, ‘If you never take a play off, you’ll always get a payoff.’ I love the one-on-ones to help kids pull through the hard times.”

He’s surprised by the recognition he receives for doing the right thing, saying he’d be doing it anyway because of the feeling it gives him, and he shrugs off a question about feeling pressure to be perfect this way:

“Everybody has their off days, and no one’s expected to be perfect. I know I’m not, so there’s not any pressure.”

Oh, yeah, about football.

Rogers coach Ted Lyon describes Vaughn as “a pretty good football player, but a great person. Everyone around him is better off knowing him.”

Lyon, in his third year at Rogers, says a leader like Vaughn makes all the difference in the world on a struggling team.

“Sometimes when you’re losing, it’s difficult to get kids to want to play, to battle through adversity,” he said. “But when a guy like Dorian with a positive attitude and athletic talent gives his all week in and week out, it says to the other guys that it’s OK to stay with it, because if Dorian does it, how could it be wrong?”

Vaughn’s not sure what’s next in his life, although he knows that he wants to go to a four-year college or university to pursue something in the medical field. He’s received some material from Columbia University, his grandfather’s alma mater.

Lyon points out that Vaughn’s grandfather is a state legislator in Georgia and wouldn’t be surprised to see Vaughn on the same path.

“He’s one of those kids who doesn’t come around very often, in terms of the quality of his character. He’s a kid who makes the right call every time. As an athlete, he’s not very big, but he’s fast and he’s real tough for his size.”

Vaughn, who says that his faith and helping others are the cornerstones of his life, thinks for a moment before responding to a question about what’s most important to him.

“I’d have to call it equal-mindedness,” he said. “I shouldn’t just be nice to the people I know; I should be nice to everyone.”

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