Pride in his country was evident as Simpson student Darrin Seamster stepped in front of the crowd at Cowles fieldhouse to sing the Star-Spangled Banner before a Simpson College basketball game.
Music has always been a hobby and an important part of Seamster’s life, but until recently the 29-year-old Iraqi veteran said he didn’t truly understand the national anthem’s significance.
“Since I have served and been in combat, the song means a lot more to me,” he said.
Driven by the desire to “do something positive with my life,” Seamster joined the U.S. Army in 2002. He trained to be a combat medic and was deployed to Iraq with the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division in 2005.
While in Iraq, he worked at the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor’s main aid station, where he was in charge of triage—or assessing which patients needed to be seen by the doctor first. He was also responsible for the care and treatment of patients, and because of the large number of trauma cases they received, he often performed tasks “doctors usually do in the States.”
“We just had to do it because people’s lives were on the line,” he said.
Faced with responsibility of making such vital decisions under pressure, Seamster learned to trust his abilities.
“I can definitely see a difference in my confidence,” he said. “Before I entered the Army, I definitely lacked confidence in my abilities.”
After returning from Iraq, Seamster returned to his hometown of New Port Richey, Fla. While working as an assistant football coach at his former high school, Seamster realized he missed the game. Before joining the Army, Seamster played Division I-A football for Liberty University until money and family issues forced him to leave school after his first year.
“Ever since I left, I felt like football wasn’t out of my system,” he said. “I wanted to play again.”
One of Seamster’s fellow junior varsity coaches had played football with Simpson Defensive Coordinator Mike Cordes and put the two in touch. When visiting Simpson, Seamster immediately took a liking to the football program.
This time around, Seamster, a defensive lineman, said his experience in the Army helped him relax and enjoy the game. Even though he still wanted to do his job on the field well, he wasn’t as hard on himself when he made mistakes.
“I realize it’s not a matter of life and death,” he said. “I can enjoy it.”
Seamster said being significantly older than the majority of his teammates wasn’t a huge issue for him, though many of the freshmen on the team later confessed that they felt awkward around him at first, not knowing whether to treat him as a teammate or a coach.
Seamster, a physical education major, embraced the opportunity to share his experiences with the younger members of the team and believes he was able to provide them with a new perspective on life. He enjoyed the mentoring experience so much that he decided to move to the role of student coach for the 2010 season.
“I’ve been able to build some really good relationships,” he said. “They’ve told me I’ve been a good influence on them.”