The field sported a massive “44” at the 50-yard line.
Players wore a black patch with “44” emblazoned on their left shoulder.
But West Deptford Midget Football President Steve Schneider wanted to be sure his players–some of whom were born after the terrorist attacks a decade ago–to remember a native son and star of the gridiron, even if they couldn’t fully understand what happened that September morning.
So between games on the league’s opening day, Schneider stepped to the microphone to honor Nick Brandemarti Jr. by retiring his jersey on the 10th anniversary of the attacks that took his life, along with thousands of other Americans.
“We need to make sure that all of our players realize who Nicky was, and how much he loved this game of football, and how much he loved West Deptford football,” Schneider said.
Though the league named just a month after the attacks in 2001, Schneider said it was important to remind the next generation of players of the fullback who once roamed the backfields of the midget program and West Deptford High School, before heading off to Fordham University to continue his playing career.
“He was an outstanding football player and an outstanding young man,” Schneider said. “No. 44 will be always remembered as Nicky’s number here at West Deptford Midget Football.”
Brandemarti’s parents, Nick Sr. and Nancy, said it was it was another example of the community support their family has received over the past decade.
“This town has always surrounded us with love and caring and support,” Nancy Brandemarti said.
Nick Brandemarti Sr. praised the midget football program and school system, two of the many factors he said helped shape his children.
“If we had to do it all over again, we would still raise our children in West Deptford,” he said. “We can’t deny it–it’s here, this is where our home is.”
head football coach Clyde Folsom said it was great to see the community come out to remember a great player and a great person and gave credit to the midget program for retiring Brandemarti’s number, as the high school did.
“It shows a lot of strength, and how the community has come together,” he said. “The community bleeds for the Brandemarti family.”