Wayne High School senior Dalyn Hart relies on his Christian faith and personal drive to persevere through life’s challenges, and it hasn’t always been easy.
For most of his life, family circumstances have led Hart and his brother to live with their aunt, Susan Bennett. One of Hart’s biggest influences, his grandmother Beverly Davis, passed away last summer.
“My whole life, there’s never been a moment where I haven’t had to fight through adversity and something tough,” Hart told Fort Wayne, Indiana’s News-Sentinel. “I’m a strong believer in God and where there’s a will, there’s a way. My motto has always been if you can look up, you can get up. If you can’t walk, crawl. If you can’t run, walk. If God allows you to move your body, move it.”
It’s a mantra inspired in part by Wayne football coach Derick Moore’s philosophy of giving a 110% effort, and Hart is applying the concept to all aspects of his life.
“I was a huge knucklehead when I was first in high school,” he said. “I was into having fun and living the young life instead of thinking about things that were going to help me down the line. By my junior year, I really straightened up.”
Hart emerged as a star player during last year’s football season, won the regional wrestling title in the 195-pound weight class, and stood out as a key member of the school’s track and field team, despite injuries. Throughout the year, his grade point average steadily increased.
“He was a great leader for us,” Moore said. “He played hurt, he played through pain. He’s a three-sport athlete. If he’s not (Wayne High School’s) athlete of the year, I don’t know what we’re doing. A good kid.”
For the 2017–18 school year, Hart went 17-0 in the 220-pound division and earned a chance to compete for the IHSAA wrestling regional championship.
“His personal drive is probably the main force behind where he is now,” wrestling coach Lucas Fisher told the News-Sentinel. “He’s very goal oriented. When he gets something on his mind, that’s the way it’s going to be.”
One of Hart’s wrestling opponents recently learned that lesson the hard way when he found himself pinned to the mat in a mere six seconds.
“I don’t think I grasped what I did at the moment,” Hart said of the unbelievable feat. “It took a while for me to register that I pinned this person in six seconds. I knew I still had work to do. Who’s next?”
Hart said his focus is now on improving his academics to attend junior college and continue his football career.
“I would like to say I’m an intelligent kid, but I’m not a straight A-plus Harvard student,” he said. “I know that. I have to outwork that Harvard student, whatever it takes to go harder than him or her.”
And while Hart’s personal drive gets him to the weight room to start his days at 3:00 a.m., the senior contends that it’s God and the encouraging coaches at Wayne that deserve a lot of the credit.
“I’m thankful for every opportunity I’ve gotten, and whoever helped me to get there,” he said. “I’m thankful for my football coaches and wrestling coaches, the people at New Tech and I want to thank God. Without him, I’m nothing.”
In The Content of Their Character, a summary of studies in character formation in a wide variety of American high schools, editors James Davison Hunter and Ryan S. Olson highlight the importance of what they call the “moral ecology” of a community:
When social institutions—whether the family, peer relationships, youth organizations, the internet, religious congregations, entertainment, or popular culture—cluster together, they form a larger ecosystem of powerful cultural influences.
Athletic coaches play a pivotal role in shaping school culture, and the Positive Coaching Alliance offers guidance on methods that will not only put points on the scoreboard, but also develop strong character in students that they can apply to all aspects of life.
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