Jason Schacter has always been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. For two straight summers, he got to know his favorite team on an intimate basis.
Now a senior and the starting quarterback at Leonardtown, Schacter served as a ballboy for the Cowboys at their training camp during the summers preceding his eighth- and ninth-grade years.
The job, which lasted three weeks each summer, was arranged by Schacter's uncle, Kevin O'Neill, then the team's head athletic trainer who is now in a similar position with the Miami Dolphins. While at the camp, Schacter roomed with his uncle in the same dorm as the players.
One of Schacter's duties was to warm up the quarterbacks, including starter Troy Aikman and backup Jason Garrett.
"Troy Aikman tried to help me out a few times," Schacter said. "He told me how to throw over the top and not over the sides."
Still, his two favorite Cowboys ended up being the starting defensive ends, Tony Tolbert and Charles Haley. The latter took Schacter under his wing, and after a summer of service the youngster was awarded with a $500 tip and two autographed football cards.
One of Schacter's fondest memories is being able to hang out on the field before preseason games, with fans streaming into the seats in the massive stadiums. He would warm up Aikman on the middle of the field, and talk to Tolbert and Haley during stretches.
"They were just regular guys," he said of the players. "It got me to see that if I set my mind to it I might be able to do something like that someday."
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"[In Texas], football is so big. It's a little different...here."