On the athletic field of battle, young men can be motivated by fear, senses of duty and goals. Arthur Doakes III is inspired by thoughts of his late father.
When Doakes, a former Lebanon High star and current offensive tackle at Division One Pittsburgh, competes, his fallen father, Arthur Doakes II, is never very far from his mind. Since he passed away more than five years ago, never has a day gone by that Doakes hasn’t honored the memory of his dad.
“I still think about him every day,” said Doakes. “Especially, right before a game. I think about him, wishing he was watching me in the stands. But once the game starts, it’s about beating your opponent.”
Doakes III was 12 and living in Lebanon with his mother when he found out about his father, who was living in Martinsburg, West Virginia at the time. Doakes II was shot and killed.
Doakes II was in and out of his son’s life. The last time the younger Doakes had seen his father was about two months before his death.
“My mom told me,” recalled Doakes. “My mom was getting ready for work and my grandma called. My mom just started crying and she hung up. She told me, ‘Your dad was shot’. It was a shock.
“I don’t really want to get into it,” said Doakes when asked about the circumstances surrounding his father’s passing.”
It was right around that time that Doakes began playing football. Doakes said his father was also an offensive lineman who was recruited to play football in college, but decided against it once he got there.
“He (Doakes II) was kind of the reason I started playing football,” said Doakes, who helped the Cedars to a 4-6 mark in 2009. “I really didn’t like football when I started playing. But my friends told me I’d be good.
“I loved him because he was my dad,” continued Doakes. “When he lived with us, we spent a lot of time with him. But he wasn’t always there.”
The bond that Doakes feels to his father has the power to transcend worlds.
“He was an honest man,” said Doakes. “A hard-working man. It’s been a long time. I can’t really remember some of the things, but he helped me become the person I am. Yeah, I miss him.
“He had a big impact on me,” Doakes added. “We did a lot of landscaping together, cutting grass, putting in trees, working on gardens.”
One of the ways Doakes has paid tribute to his dad was by wearing his father’s old number – 76 – on the gridiron. It is his sincerest wish to continue that tradition at Pittsburgh.
“That’s why I wanted to wear 76,” said Doakes. “I hope to wear it in college. It’s not a done deal yet. I’m kind of hoping to switch numbers with somebody who already has it. It’s important, but it’s just a number.”
And what really counts is a lot less finite.