CHaD East-West All-Star Notebook: Like a brother ...By ALEX HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
June 27. 2018 10:49PM
MANCHESTER — When Nate Hunt arrived at one of Team East’s practices this week for the upcoming Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock East-West All-Star Game, one of his teammates asked if his brother was coming too.
Hunt’s brothers do not play football. His teammate was referring to Hunt’s best friend, Teagan House.
Hunt and House spent the past four years as teammates on the Spaulding of Rochester football team.
Hunt played center for the Red Raiders and will continue his career at Castleton University next fall. He is one of Team East’s captains in the CHaD All-Star Game on Saturday at the University of New Hampshire.
House was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at age 3 and is confined to a wheelchair. He could not play football, but was still a four-year member of Spaulding’s team and will serve as Team East’s manager on Saturday.
Proceeds from Saturday’s exhibition benefit CHaD.
DMD is a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness, according to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Life expectancy for those with the disorder is around the early 30s.
House, who has been a CHaD patient since his DMD diagnosis, was not a big football fan until he joined the Spaulding program shortly after sitting with some team captains during lunch one school day during his freshman year. After joining the team, House became a four-year captain for the Red Raiders, built many strong friendships and scored two memorable touchdowns.
“It gave me friends I could talk to because usually I didn’t have many friends,” House said before Team East’s practice Wednesday at Manchester West’s Veterans Memorial Field. “It gave me the opportunity to make more friends than I normally could.”
Hunt moved to Rochester from Brunswick, Maine, as a seventh-grader. He and House got to know each other as freshmen and have since become best friends.
“I wanted to try to change his life and he ultimately ended up changing mine,” Hunt said. “I moved here in seventh grade, to Rochester, and I didn’t have a lot of friends because cliques had formed and stuff so I hadn’t really found a really close friend like that before him. He was really one of my first, like close, close friends in Rochester, and our bond has just grown over the years.”
Like Hunt, fellow Spaulding alum Mitchell Stokes said House changed his life.
“He made me realize that something can happen to anyone,” said Stokes, who played wide receiver for Spaulding and represents Team East Saturday. “I never thought about me being in a wheelchair, but when I see him, he seems happy all the time.”
House’s mom, Jessica Tufts, said when Stokes found out he was going to be on Team East but did not see House on the roster, he went to his mom and explained House needed to be part of the team. Tufts also contacted CHaD and shared House’s story, what being part of the Spaulding team meant to him and how much he wanted to be on the sidelines with Hunt, Stokes and fellow Red Raider Jonathan Speltz one more time. CHaD happily agreed to add House to Team East, Tufts said.
For a downloadable .pdf of the CHaD East-West All-Star Game rosters, click the image above.
“None of the boys wanted to play without him, but (Mitchell) was the one who spearheaded it,” Tufts said.
When Hunt, Stokes and Speltz and their fellow Team East members from Winnacunnet of Hampton take the field Saturday, each of them will be wearing “TH” decals on their helmets in support of House. Spaulding had worn the decals in the past and Hunt said he was approached by the Winnacunnet players asking to wear them on their helmets for the game. House was a big part of their high school careers too, they explained to Hunt.
House scored a touchdown as a sophomore and a senior against Winnacunnet. Hunt wrote a descriptive essay about the first touchdown House scored for one of his classes last school year. He used to use a photo from the play as his cell phone wallpaper.
“There was just nothing that I’ve really felt so emotionally, because it was the last game of the season, we were 0-8 about to be 0-9 ... and then we got the call from the sideline saying, ‘Alright, we’re going to put in Teagan. He’s going to do this.’
“And we all, instead of being down because we were going to lose every game of the season, we just all lit up,” Hunt said.
After Hunt snapped the ball, he watched House carry the ball into the end zone and saw a big smile on his friend’s face. When House scored, Hunt said fans from both teams erupted in the stands and players on each side began to cry.
“The first time was crazy,” said Speltz, who has known House since kindergarten. “Everybody rushed the field. It was kind of one of those really special moments you see on TV and stuff.”
House will add one more memory to his high school career Saturday when he represents Team East alongside Hunt, Stokes and Speltz.
“I feel honored that I get to play and get to be in the last game with my friends, to get to experience their last football game that they may have and I feel happy that they’ve included me and I get to do things with them,” House said.