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A Comeback Story: Completed

October 21, 2017

Jaqwis Dancy (23) reaches for a touchdown against Northwestern State University in the 2017 season opener. – Photo by Donny Crowe

 

Andrew Bell

Staff Reporter | agb022@latech.edu

 

It was second and goal on the 4-yard line, with the game tied. Jaqwis Dancy had just gotten a carry and was stopped short of the goal line. The offensive linemen in front of him huffed and puffed as they got in their stances, ready to pave the way for their fellow running back to score the first collegiate touchdown of his career.

 

Dancy had been waiting for this moment for years.

 

“(Coach Holtz) tells everybody to work their hardest and prepare like we’re starters,” Dancy said. “So the time came and it was my moment. I had been preparing for this the whole time.”

 

On the next play, Dancy would receive the most momentous hand-off of his life. The ball was snapped, sophomore quarterback J’mar Smith took it, shifted left and transferred it to Dancy. Thundering forward, he was tripped up before reaching the end zone; but in a miraculous output of pure effort and grit Dancy lunged forward, crossing the plane and fulfilling a lifetime goal simultaneously.

 

“It was the icing on the cake,” Dancy said. “Practicing and everything, it felt good to be back and the first time stepping on the field was great, but my first time stepping in the end zone; there’s no better feeling in the world than that.”

 

Dancy, a redshirt sophomore running back from Junction City, Arkansas, grew up with a single mother and three siblings.

 

“Growing up, it was kind of tough at times,” Dancy said. “I was with a single mother, a little sister and two older brothers, but my mom always told us to just work hard at everything we did.”

 

That work ethic instilled in Dancy from a young age helped him get through the trials and tribulations that were soon to come.

 

After being recruited to Louisiana Tech as a three-star running back out of Junction City High School, Dancy began a promising freshman year. He played in all 13 games, primarily on special teams, and racked up 328 all-purpose yards mostly off of kick returns.

 

After showing so much potential as a freshman, many were expecting him to develop a bigger role and more responsibilities in La Tech’s offense in his true sophomore year.

 

These expectations were shattered by the heart-breaking news of the diagnosis of stage three Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early October 2016.

 

Gerald Jordan, assistant athletic director for sports medicine and head football athletic trainer, helped break the news to Dancy.

 

“Obviously, when we had to deliver that news it was shocking, but after that he really handled the entire process like a champ,” Jordan said. “He stayed enrolled as a full-time student the entire time and juggled his classes. His instructors were great to work with and our athletic department assisted him along the way.”

 

According to head football coach Skip Holtz, Dancy’s constant positive attitude helped get him through his most grueling moments in chemotherapy and rehab.

 

“Jaqwis is very jovial and very upbeat and he’s always got a smile on his face,” Holtz said. “He’s not a moper. He’s very positive and happy. Youthful energy would be the best way to describe him.”

 

This youthful energy, along with an unwavering determination and work ethic, paid off for Dancy. After enduring four months of chemotherapy treatments and radiation at St. Jude Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, he was given the news that he was cancer-free on Feb. 9, 2017.

 

“It was tough,” Dancy said. “But I always kept a positive mindset and worked hard through everything. (Football) was everything that motivated me to come back. Football is something that I love and the brotherhood that I have here made it way easier than it should’ve been.”

 

Dancy returned to to spring practice in April 2017 a new player and a new person. The fruits of his labor have been shown in his performance thus far, with nine rushes, 53 yards and a touchdown on nearly six yards a carry.

 

“I definitely feel like going through everything that I went through made me the person that I am today,” Dancy said. “I feel like I got stronger. It seems like all the motivation and anger from that year built up and it shows on the field.”

 

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