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Nick Dillon and Damon Berry: A decade of friendship

Left+to+right%3A+The+two+are+pictured+at+a+sophomore+team+football+game%2C+after+a+Friday+night+football+game+from+this+year+%28Damon+left%2C+Nick+right%29%2C+and+at+Class+Night+%28Nick+left%2C+Damon+right%29.
Left to right: The two are pictured at a sophomore team football game, after a Friday night football game from this year (Damon left, Nick right), and at Class Night (Nick left, Damon right).

Left to right: The two are pictured at a sophomore team football game, after a Friday night football game from this year (Damon left, Nick right), and at Class Night (Nick left, Damon right).

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Left to right: The two are pictured at a sophomore team football game, after a Friday night football game from this year (Damon left, Nick right), and at Class Night (Nick left, Damon right).

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TOWAMENCIN- 3000 students at North Penn High School makes about 1500 sets of best friends, whom all probably changed their duo once or twice, yet in the end people still question who will be by their side in 10 years. With the school year already finished, some seniors even consider how their college decisions will impact their friendships.

While students ponder the circle of friendship, senior Damon Berry wonders if he would be the positive kid he is and senior Nick Dillon questions if he would be the passionate football player he is, if they hadn’t met each other over a decade ago. After over ten years of friendship, while they reflect on how they helped each other develop, they will also be parting ways pursuing different dreams in college.

“It started around age five when I was playing soccer. My uncle wanted me to play football since my brother started playing football. The first year I told him I didn’t want to play, then the second year came and my uncle said he was signing me up, so I just said ‘I guess I’ll try football.’ That’s how I met Damon,” said Dillon.

Dillon didn’t know anyone or anything about the sport when he started playing football. The only knowledge he did have on the game was that his speed gave him the potential to be a good player. Berry was the quarterback of the team, and he was the running back, so there was forced interaction there. Knowing all the plays as quarterback, Berry had to teach him all the plays.

Strangely enough, before being quarter back, Berry struggled to even get on a team. He always wanted to play football when he lived in Philadelphia. There was a team close to his house, but when he went over to play, he was told that he was too small. He knew he was going to move soon, so it wasn’t a big deal. Once he moved to Norristown, Berry and his mom looked to register for the Norristown Bandits team, but they couldn’t find it. Seemingly, every time he tried to play football, something got in the way. A week later, his mom heard of the Conshohocken Bears, and he wanted to play so he did. Although Dillon was from Norristown, he ended up playing for the Bears. 

“We used to get ready at the beginning of practice as a team, and we would see Nick jogging across coming from soccer. It was obvious he was into soccer, but I thought he was cool. Anytime I could, I would show him where he needed to be on the field. We were the two key components of the team, so I showed him where to get every hand-off and where to be for every play,” said Berry.

Only being around age seven, there weren’t many passing plays, so communication between Dillon and Berry was key for hand-offs. That amount of communication led to them talking every practice. One day Berry invited him over and they decided to hang out after practice.

“My mom told me he had invited me over after practice and we just fit well together. From that it went from an every week thing to an everyday thing,” said Dillon

Norristown is split into two sides by a set of train tracks: an east end and a west end. Berry lived on the West end and Dillon lived on the furthest side of the East end. Riding bikes back and forth just to see each other became a regular thing. Even though they lived on different ends, the approximate 10 miles between them did not stop them from hanging out. Being kids, it seemed like nothing to bike to each other’s houses. They enjoyed spending time together, so they proceeded to do so whenever they could.

“If I didn’t answer the phone, my mom knew I was at Nick’s, or if I didn’t come home at night my mom assumed I was at his house. We used to do such unnecessary things when we were younger. There would be nights before games where I would just tell him I was coming over, and then I’d pack all my stuff for the game the next day, put my football helmet on, and rode my bike to his house,” said Berry.

The way both Berry’s and Dillon’s family is set up, they both needed each other. For Berry, he’s the oldest of his siblings, and there’s a large gap in age between him and his younger siblings. This lead to him never having anyone besides his cousins, but once he moved from Philadelphia, he no longer had those cousins to be in contact with. Playing football and being around someone the same age as him, who liked the same things he did, was perfect. Having someone to look at as a brother made Berry happy.

“I’m the youngest, so I used to watch my brothers and sisters go out and do whatever they want. I was the one who was always home not doing anything. I had friends around, but growing up I really was closest with Damon so I was just always over there. It was just football non-stop for us, and that’s how we both liked it,” said Dillon.

Years went by and they both played for the Conshohocken Bears until their age prohibited them. Only one time was it that they weren’t on the same Bears team. Eventually, from how close Berry and Dillon got, Berry’s mother became Dillon’s God-Mother. One day, Berry’s mom asked him to be there God-son, but soon after that, talk began to go around about Berry moving again.

“I think it started off as a joke about Nick moving in with us. We were always together, of course we had other friends we were cool with, but at the end of the day we were always together. So when we talked about moving, it was a joke. ‘Well he might as well move with us.’ I said the joke to my mom. She brought up the joke to his mom, and they actually started talking about the benefits it would have for the both of us. We were moving to a better area, better school district, better football team, and more opportunities to get out of Norristown and do something with our lives, so it just seemed like that’s what would work best,” said Berry. 

Thinking about all the memories made in Norristown, going to North Penn was totally different, but having each other made the situation better. When they first moved here, a lot of people saw them together because they spent most of their time together. Since they would both be going to the same place at night, they didn’t have the real urge to go out and find friends. Continuing to do things together all the time, they got even closer. Not just because they were living together now, but this was the time they really started doing everything together.

“We came in ninth grade in February, and football season was already over. Since we couldn’t play football, that forced us to be together even more. If we were on a team together we would have met more people sooner when we moved here. Since we moved down here and couldn’t play football, all we did was go to the YMCA and play ball together. There were people we met in school, but we never hung out with them outside of school. We were the new kids, so everyone was just trying to figure us out, not exactly trying to hang out with us,” said Berry.

With growing up and all the phases of adolescence, high school friends are bound to switch up on each other. Going through all the different phases in middle school and high school, the two explained it was always assuring to have each other.

From this friendship, Dillon made Berry realize that biological family isn’t always the most important in life- loyalty is. Dillon was loyal and this started a brotherhood between them. Especially, with all the changes going on in people’s lives, it was nice for Dillon and Berry to always have each other to count on.

“Even though a lot of people have that one friend they have been close with since they were younger, we live together, and many people can’t say that about their best friend. It’s crazy to think we have been friends for ten years, yet we still have a lot more to go; we are only 18. He’s family at this point. I don’t even label Damon as my best friend anymore; he’s my brother. At this point, it’s just natural for us to almost always be together,” said Dillon. 

Looking at them from the outside and seeing them together, people might think they wouldn’t want to socialize with others. Some people may look at their situation and be hesitant to approach them, but getting to know them and talking to them, people would be able to see firsthand they really are open people.

“We are with each other all the time but we still live our lives. I still talk to people he doesn’t know, and he talks to people I don’t know. We are not hip to hip, and we’re grown. We don’t always see eye to eye, but we are mature enough to handle it. I feel like us being so close should not prohibit anyone from trying to be our friends. If they look at it that way, that’s just who they are,” said Dillon.

As the two get older, the reality they face is college. Next year Dillon will be attending Lock Haven University to continue his football career, and Berry will be attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania to pursue nursing. Being over 2 hours away, they see this as another phase of life.

“In college, going to different schools, 100 percent I’m going to miss him, but at the same time I couldn’t be happier for Nick. He’s going to Lock Haven. He’s pursuing what he wants to do, and at the same time I’m going to IUP, pursuing what I want to do. It’s for the better, so why would I want something different? He’ll still get a facetime call now and then, but I’ll be happy to see him there,” said Berry.

Berry also explained how Dillon has been a supportive figure in his life. Berry explained that he used to struggle with his anger, but Dillon’s support helped him deal with it better.

“If I’m in a bad mood, or just not feeling myself there’s always someone who can relate to what I’m saying. He knows where I come from, he knows my situation and can understand everything I’m saying. It’s different to be able to talk to someone who knows me on that type of level. He understands what I’m doing, why I’m saying the things I say and why I’m acting a certain way. I really believe this whole positivity streak I started, started with our friendship in a type of way. Just us talking and looking at things differently, if I didn’t have that, I feel like I would be a lot different. Sometimes I feel like if I explained some things to somebody else, they wouldn’t understand where I am coming from. He always understands because he was either there or he knows why I do the things I do,” said Berry.

 Similarly, Dillon explained that he used to be really shy when he was younger. However, Berry helped him break out of his shell. His boldness with approaching people set an example for Dillon. Seeing Berry talk to other kids on the team taught him how to do it. 

“Seeing Damon go off on people when he had anger problems, it brought out an inner beast in me. I would tell him to chill because it wasn’t worth it, but I began to develop a passion. That’s when I really started to be more confident in myself. People used to talk trash and I previously would have looked at them and kept walking, but now during the games, I will talk back. I was always a little passionate on the field for the game, but now I’m passionate in my mind which comes out when I perform. I was just a little soccer man, and he made me a little beast on the football field,” said Dillon.

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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA
Nick Dillon and Damon Berry: A decade of friendship