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Ossei-Anto reflects on career with Zahm

Douglas Farmer | Thursday, November 13, 2008

Even though the team in the gold helmets gets all the glory, those in the white helmets put in the work, too. Zahm’s Theo Ossei-Anto is a perfect example of that.

Ossei-Anto’s entire extended family is from Ghana, and at the age of five, he, his parents and his four sisters moved to the United States. But Theo did not start playing football until high school. He soon learned why so many grown men miss their playing days.

“Junior and senior years of high school, there was always a lot of personal things,” Ossei-Anto said. “But on the field it all melted away and I truly felt at home.”

So Ossei-Anto was elated when he learned of Notre Dame’s well-kept secret – he could play full contact football in college as well.

In Ossei-Anto’s freshmen season, Zahm made it to the interhall championship game in Notre Dame Stadium. Even though it was three full seasons ago, Ossei-Anto still points to that game as the highlight of his interhall football career, as many of those who had the same experience undoubtedly would.

As a four-year starter at running back, Ossei-Anto became accustomed to the view of the game from within the game. Thus, being sidelined on the first day of practice with a broken thumb, Theo began his senior season with a new vantage point.

“It was just a real freak accident,” Ossei-Anto said of the injury. “It hurt a lot to have to sit and watch the team lose and not be able to do anything about it.”

This frustration led Ossei-Anto to disregard doctor’s orders and resume play after only three weeks, instead of the recommended six. Once back on the field, Ossei-Anto and the four other Zahm seniors set to improving the Rabid Bats 0-1-1 record. While it did not necessarily turn out exactly as desired (Zahm finished 1-2-1), the Rabid Bats were able to win its final game of the season and the final game of Ossei-Anto’s career, 8-0 over Fisher.

“We had a lot of raw talent in key positions, but just didn’t gel as well as we should have,” Ossei-Anto said.

A difficulty in finding team chemistry is understandable when the center, quarterback, and running back are all freshmen, as they were for Zahm the first two games in Ossei-Anto’s absence.

But the team’s youth hints at potential for Zahm’s coming seasons, and if the Rabid Bats do find success, Ossei-Anto will know he was a piece of the foundation.

Looking back upon his four seasons and almost twenty games, Ossei-Anto fondly remembers a lot. But one repeated experience, in which he sees glimpses of himself, stands in the forefront.

“I honestly think the highlight [besides playing in the Stadium] was being able to see other people who always loved the game, who dreamed to get on the field, like me, and then succeed,” said Ossei-Anto. “I just love interhall football. I love football in general.”