WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — The first game of Otterbein University’s football season is in the books, but Saturday’s opener was about a lot more than football.
Saturday, the team took on Ohio Wesleyan with heavy hearts.
A moment of silence before the game, both teams and both fanbases all honoring Chatman.
Then, for the coin toss, some of the 21-year-old’s teammates carried his jersey onto the field.
And after that, something that really transcended sports.
Both teams agreed that on the first play of the game, Otterbein could lay Chatman’s jersey on the field, on the defensive line where he would have been.
Then it was onto the game.
Despite coping with the tragic loss, the team played Saturday because they said it’s what Nigel’s family wanted and what Nigel would have wanted.
Otterbein ended up losing 22-10.
Even though it didn’t go their way, both coaches and players said it was important to be out there for Nigel.
“It was probably the first time in my life that I woke up not wanting to play a football game,” said Otterbein Captain Niall Lewison. “Just because. But we know that he would not let us not step on this field. Wish we could have done better by him, but I know we’ll get better and the rest of season will be in his honor.”
“Our guys needed to be on this field and play this game,” said Head Coach Tim Doup. “I think it wouldn’t have been right not to play it, especially with his family wanting it and our team said, ‘Coach we’re playing this game, we wanna do this for him.’ And they played their hearts out. They did. Just things went wrong.”
Chatman’s nickname was Big Nige for how big of a player he was and how big of a personality he had.
They said the rest of the season will be played in his honor.