On a crisp, fall day if one was to look into the sky above Stagg Field they’d see a football flipping through the air. During a blossoming spring afternoon, you might see a javelin soaring through the sky. Both become a reality when talking about one person.
Battling a life of a diabetic, senior Whit DeVaux has become a rare, talented two-sport athlete – an athlete that has also inspired a younger generation.
Dating back to one of DeVaux’s last games as a senior in high school, a mother came up to DeVaux as he was walking off the football field for one of his last times, making it a moment he’d never forget.
“We come to every home game,” said the mother. “I’ve heard that you’re a type one diabetic and I just wanted to tell you it’s inspirational for my son, who is also a type one diabetic, to see you excelling in sports.”
DeVaux was caught off guard by the heart-warming exchange.
“I was speechless. To know that I have an impact on a kid’s life that much made me feel special.”
As if two sports weren’t already enough, DeVaux battles a bigger competition than punting footballs or throwing javelin: diabetes. DeVaux was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 10.
“Sports have saved my life, being so active makes me check and see if I’m getting too low or if my numbers are getting to high,” he said. “When a normal person goes out onto the field their blood sugar is going to be around 90-100, I try to have mine around 125-150 because I know I’m going to be burning it off during the game.”
DeVaux, a recreational management major at Springfield College, grew up in Wethersfield, Conn. He was originally a baseball player during his childhood. After he decided to hang up his baseball cleats in eighth grade, he inquired into another sport: Track and Field. DeVaux had never picked up a javelin until his freshman year of college. He has played football his whole life, but this year seems different for him.
In 2016, DeVaux was the second-ranked punter in the Liberty League averaging 38.8 yards a punt on 39 attempts. As for 2017, he hasn’t gotten the opportunity to show off his amazing skill as much because of the Pride’s dominant offense only punting the ball 14 times so far. He is however averaging 40.1 yards per punt.
According to NCAA, you need to average 3.6 punts per game in order to be nationally ranked. DeVaux averages just 2.3 this season.
“This football team is different from my previous years here. For the first time, I honestly feel like we are all about the team and not just individual play,” said DeVaux on the talented football team of Springfield College.
Springfield football head coach Mike Cerasuolo has seen DeVaux astonishing punts first hand.
“Whit is a game changer for us. His ability to flip field position has set up our team in fantastic situations, ones that have won us games. His leadership is of the top on our team as well.”
When spring time rolls around his attention turns to javelin. The dual-athlete was one of three student-athletes at Springfield to qualify for the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championship. He went on to finish 10th overall out of 20 competitors field with a throw of 195 feet, 11 inches. His best throw was of 214 feet, 6 inches at the Division III New England Championship.
Coming into his final season for Track and Field Head Coach Mike Miller explained what it’s like to have a thrower like DeVaux on the team.
“He is a natural born athlete,” said Miller. “No matter what level he is at, he’s always trying to get better. He has a special ability to learn quickly, which makes him such a unique athlete.”
Coach Miller admires Whit’s fight with diabetes.
“His commitment to his health, which is perceived as being obstetrical, hasn’t gotten in his way. It isn’t easy to manage a health issue and perform at the level he does, but he wins that battle every time.”
Cerasuolo is impressed with how DeVaux manages his diabetes.
“[It’s] never been an issue that has been brought up because of his complete understanding he has on it and his ability to perform through it,” he said.
DeVaux doesn’t want to stop at this level now. He has gone on to contacting a couple coaches about participating in a pro day for football which he is serious about. If DeVaux sees an opportunity open, he seems to be the kid that will not only go for it, but beat the odds.
His influence in life travels back to his own home. “My dad has been my biggest supporter in life. I’ll never forget the words he told me ‘Never settle for almost’ which I have written on my cleat before every game.”
Coming into Springfield College, DeVaux didn’t want to be the punter for the football team. He wanted to be something of more importance, that is until his dad gave him a blunt and honest statement.
“I did not want to be the punter at all, but my dad [told me] ‘Anything to get on that bus and travel with your team you do it’ and that’s when it clicked in my head that I could be the punter if that’s what the coaches wanted.”
DeVaux is no ordinary athlete. His impressive size of 6’4, 210 pounds is almost your prototypical quarterback size. He takes part in being the scout quarterback for the football team, which keeps his arm loose for the next sport season.
Fast forward eight years later. From the moment Miller approached him about javelin throwing, DeVaux’s college career took off. With punts traveling as far as 66 yards and javelin throws putting him at the top of his competition, Whit has shown his dominance.
No matter what task he faces, DeVaux comes out on top. In his final year, DeVaux has unfinished business with both football and track and field. His determination only leads one to believe he will close that deal this year.