If you’ve recently pulled up to Ravenscroft, there is a chance you’ve heard Drake and Future’s hit rap song “Big Rings” blasting from a few vehicles.
“I bump that song all the time,” Ravens’ senior running back D.J. Washington said.
Now Washington and his Ravenscroft teammates have “really big rings” of their own. In November, the Ravens capped off a 9-3 season with a 50-26 state title win over Christ School. Ravenscroft was crowned the 2015 NCISAA 2A state champion, and at halftime of Wednesday’s home boys’ basketball game against Word of God, the team was presented its championship banner. In a private ceremony after the game, the football champions got what they had finally been waiting for — their rings.
They’re finally here
Ravens running back D.J. Washington
“People were very impatient, the other players,” Washington said. “They kept asking, ‘When are they coming, when are they coming?’ They’re finally here.”
Washington, along with teammates Henry Atkeson and Payne Lubbers were assigned the task of designing the rings. They selected the vendor, size and what they wanted on the side. The team decided on shiny design, with the Ravens logo in the middle, surrounded by the words “State Champions.”
Atkeson said everyone had an opinion on what the ring should look like. The most important part was to make sure everyone was heard.
“It was a long process,” Atkeson said.
The process of playing football has become a year-long ordeal. Players train year-round for a 12-week season during hot days in the falls and cold evenings in the winter.But what motivates the majority of good teams is using the fruits of their labor to get the ring.
Last season was bittersweet for Washington, who remembers being on a 4-7 team as a freshman. He said he can take pride in knowing he left the Ravenscroft program better than he found it. Atkeson said it was like winning a bowl game.
The ring ceremony resembled a reunion for the team, the first time they’ve all been together since the state championship game. They posed for pictures - rings front and center - and spent time hanging out in the gymnasium.
The team received a trophy when they won it all, but the hardware and the banner will remain at the school. The players got to take the rings home, some planning to tuck them away in glass cases and even leave them behind for college.
“I’ve never had something this nice,” Atkeson said.
Washington’s ring gave him a leg up in household bragging rights. His dad, Dewayne, is a former first-round draft pick and played 11 years on four teams in the NFL. He was a high school standout at Southern Durham. However, the elder Washington never won a state championship. Even though there is still some debate about who the better athlete is, D.J. has the state title ring in his corner.
“He claims he was a better athlete than I was when he was in high school,” D.J. Washington said. “I think I have more accolades to prove it. Winning this gives me bragging rights around the house.”
Before taking the head coaching job at Heritage, Dewayne Washington was an assistant at Ravenscroft. DJ. said nothing changed when his dad left.
“He still critiqued me just as normal,” Washington said. “Nothing really changed. He was there for the state championship, the most important game.”