EXETER — If you were using football terminology, you’d say Hunter Roy was “undersized” at birth.
Roy was born six weeks premature, and weighed about four pounds at that time. Within an hour of his birth, Roy was flown by helicopter from Dover’s Wentworth-Douglass Hospital to Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD) in Hanover.
“My mom said she could fit me in the palm of her hand,” Roy explained. “I was half the size of a teddy bear after a couple weeks. I think I stayed in an incubator for a month and a half. I was there for a while. My parents stayed at the family house (David’s House in Lebanon).”
Roy, a Rochester resident, isn’t small any longer. He’s now a 6-foot, 225-pound guard/defensive end who will play in Saturday’s CHaD East-West New Hampshire All-Star Game at St. Anselm College (1 p.m.). The game features players who graduated from NHIAA schools this year.
Roy was selected to the East roster after a three-year varsity football career at Spaulding High School in Rochester.
“I like to eat, so I grew pretty big,” Roy said after a practice at Exeter High School this week. “It’s the biggest game I wanted to play in. My mom cried (when he was chosen to play in the game). My dad was really happy, and I probably cried a couple happy tears, too, because I know it’s a hard thing to get selected for.”
“The kid loves the game,” said East coach Tony Johnson, a Manchester resident who guided Bishop Guertin of Nashua to six Division II titles and is now the head coach at Worcester (Mass.) Academy. “He hustles every single play. He’s a tough kid. Bottom line, he’s a football player.”
This will be the third CHaD East-West All-Star Game, and Roy and his teammates will be trying to earn the East’s first victory. The West won 44-12 in 2012, and 13-7 last season. Both of those games were played at the University of New Hampshire. This year’s game was moved to St. Anselm College because of construction being done at UNH’s Cowell Stadium.
“I definitely feel lucky,” Roy said. “When I went back to the hospital with the team for the tour (last winter), when you see the kids it makes you so much more thankful and appreciative for what you have. Usually, kids who go there, some of the kids my age still can’t walk. Here I am getting the chance to play in this game. Not many kids get to go from the worst of the worst, to maybe the best of the best high school athletes. That really makes me feel good.”
Roy said he has raised more than $1,000 that will be donated to CHaD.
“It’s my turn to pay it back, and give back to the hospital and the kids.” he said. “This will be the icing on the cake for my career.”
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East Notes: Pinkerton Academy of Derry linebacker Matt Madden missed the first week of practice with an ankle injury, but has been practicing in pads this week. Madden, who will play for Johnson at Worcester Academy this fall, was Pinkerton’s leading tackler as a sophomore, junior and senior. He finished his high school career with 338 tackles. … Portsmouth quarterback Donovan Phanor received medical clearance for a hip pointer and is expected to play Saturday. … Eric Waddington (Dover), Collin Richardson (Exeter) and Zach Wiggin (Pembroke Academy) are the East captains. … The East will run a spread-option offense, and a 4-3 defense. … East running back Manny Latimore finished his high school career as Pinkerton’s all-time rushing leader (4,142 yards). He also scored 64 touchdowns.