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Former HCHS football player making big impact on field, in classroom

Standing 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing 280 pounds, Darius Bethel makes a big impact on the football field.

Not only does Bethel make a big impact on the football field, the former Halifax County High School and now Averett University offensive lineman is making his presence known in the classroom.

The former two-time All Western Valley District Second Team pick finished his regular college requirements in two years, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice at the early age of 19. Now, he’s working on his Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

His grade-point average is above the 3.0 mark, and his accomplishments on the football field as the right offensive guard for the Averett University football team have led his teammates to elect him as a team captain for the upcoming season.

“I can’t explain how happy that makes me,” Bethel remarked.

While being elected a team captain is a big, honor, it is short of the milestone accomplishment Bethel is looking for in football.

“This finger has nothing on it,” Bethel said pointing to his ring finger.

“I have two more years of college football eligibility left, and I’m going to get a championship ring. I didn’t do it in four years of high school, but I’m going to do it in four years of college. 

“I’m not thinking about the pros,” he added.

“I’m not thinking about making all-district or any of that. All I care about is what our team does as a whole, and that is winning a conference championship.”

There is no doubt football is important to Bethel. Academics, Bethel says, are most important.

Strong academic skills were an emphasis, even in Bethel’s early years. 

“That was instilled in me from my parents (Linwood and Yevette Bethel) and from my sister (Tierra Bethel). My sister made straight “A’s” and was almost valedictorian in high school, and I tried to follow in her footsteps. 

“My parents always told me football is not guaranteed, but, if you study and do your schoolwork, that is always guaranteed, it’s something nobody can ever take away from you.”

Bethel admitted that as is the case with many young people, the message sometimes got lost. One day, it hit Bethel hard.

The Averett University standout explained reality set in one day during the spring as he was nearing the end of his freshman year at Halifax County High School. Bethel was lifting weights at the Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium field house, doing a power clean, when he sustained a torn ACL muscle, an injury that almost wiped out his football career.

“My knee just buckled wrong and I fell down,” Bethel recalled.

“I went to a doctor who told me I was never going to play football again another day in my life. When I heard that, it hit hard. It was like everything my parents and my teachers were saying started making sense. That’s what really made me realize I have to step up my academics. 

“I was always good in academics,” Bethel continued.

“I was getting “B’s” and I felt like if I had put forth more effort I could have had an “A” average. If I had done that all along throughout my high school career I could have been a 4.0 student. Experiencing that torn ACL brought me down to reality.”

Bethel said he was initially told he had torn the ACL in both of his knees. After visiting a doctor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. it was learned he had sustained only one ACL tear.

After missing his sophomore season, Bethel returned to play football for the Comets in his junior and senior seasons and went on to become an all-district pick both years.

He continued his football career at Averett University and has become a top-tier player there.

His academic success has continued through college, and he has successfully overcome a battle many young college students face – the need to focus on schoolwork versus wanting to have fun and hang out with friends.

“That was probably one of the hardest battles of my life,” Bethel admitted.

“There have been plenty of times when I’ve wanted to go hang out with my friends, go to the gym and play basketball or play “Call Of Duty” on the X-Box all night. 

“A lot of people want their social life to be the focal point of their life,” continued Bethel.

“When you become an adult, you learn you have to make some big decisions. Sometimes not going out to play basketball or stay up all night playing X-Box games isn’t as important. Some people don’t realize that. If I graduate college like I did in two years at the age of 19 with a 3.0 GPA, that’s going to take me further than any football stats will.”

As far as future career is concerned, Bethel is not sure. However, he will have many options with a background in criminal justice and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

“I keep saying with my criminal justice background I’d like to look into something like being a U.S. Marshal, getting into homeland security, or possibly working with the FBI,” Bethel explained.

“I could possibly start my own business in Halifax. That’s something I could do here in Halifax County that could make our community better. It’s all kind of up in the air.”

One thing Bethel is sure of, however, is he wants to make Halifax County a better place. 

“Whatever I do, “ Bethel said, “at some point, I want to leave my footprint on Halifax County and make it a lot better than what it is today.”