It was just like a last-minute field goal try. Kick it through and win the game.
Over the summer at Kelley Washington's Futures Football Camp in Winchester, Va., all Joseph Demski had to do was give the right answer and he'd win the trip of a lifetime. Washington, a native Virginian, had promised to one hard-working camper the chance to fly to Foxborough for a Patriots game and hang out post-game with his New England teammates in an all expenses paid trip. Others had tried and failed to come through, but Joseph delivered.
"We gave them a quote at the beginning of camp and told them whoever could recite it at the end of camp would be the winner," Washington said.
And for his dedication, Joseph and his father, Greg, took in the Patriots' victory over the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 26. After the game, the Demskis had the opportunity to tour the Patriots locker room with Washington and a couple other Patriots stars.
The quote that granted Joseph the golden ticket outlined five things that make a successful student athlete. They were:
-- "Learn to do things you don't want to do."
-- "Believe whole-heartedly that you're going to succeed."
-- "Train your body to follow your mind."
-- "When it's game time and the lights come on, show up and execute what you have trained your mind and body to do."
And there was one final item, words that seem to embody Joseph: "The quicker you realize you play better with a smile on your face, the better you will be with handling adversity."
Joseph is no stranger to those terms.
The 14-year-old - who shares the same home city of Stephens City, Va. with Washington - was diagnosed with diabetes just days before his 11th birthday. Joseph was playing Little League football at the time and he learned to cope with the disease while playing.
"It never really hit me until I got home from the hospital," Joseph said. "That's when I realized that I'd have to take care of it myself."
Greg said that it was inspiring to watch his son press on, balancing sports with his new treatments. From its outset, Joseph refused help while administering his own daily shots.
However, after doctors told Joseph last year that he was going to have to wear an insulin pump for treatment, he was forced to sit out his freshman season this year at Sherando High School.
"Over the summer, I went back and forth about it," Joseph said. "I just didn't know what to do. With a pump, it's tough to disconnect and, for a time, to get away from it. I decided it wasn't the best idea this year."
Joseph is planning on trying to return to football next season and hopes to start working out again over the summer. In the meantime, he's tried to stay around the game by helping Sherando's varsity team as a manager and his New England trip has only strengthened his resolve to get back.
"It was just a great trip," Joseph said. "It was unbelievable. We were sitting down with Kelley after the game and he said, 'Let me introduce you to a friend of mine.' And Matt Cassel came over, and then Stephen Gostkowski came over. It was amazing."
After that, the Demskis were ushered by Washington for a tour of the Patriots locker room.
"To me, Kelley is a hometown hero," Greg Demski said. "It's not that he's done what he's done, but when you sit down and talk to him, he's very genuine. This was just the experience of a lifetime."
Part of Joseph's program to get back into football will include his fifth visit to Washington's camp.
Washington stresses opportunity over achievement at his camp, which enjoyed its fifth year this year and was over 200 campers strong. The former Tennessee standout emphasizes giving children the chance to play the game and brings plenty of football equipment, including cleats and pads, to hand out to the campers along with the big prize.
"It's great," Washington said about the trip giveaway. "He just kept saying it was a dream come true and that makes it all worthwhile. We try to make sure all the campers are taken care of, whether they're the best football player or they are just starting. We want the camp to promote hard work first and foremost."