Inside the Cummings’ home in Colchester, rests an ode to the 1980 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl. More specifically: It’s Glenn Cummings’ personal shrine, to the last high school football game he ever played.
The 1980 Shrine program, three photos and Cummings’ No. 38 jersey sit behind framed glass, hanging in a hallway.
Grant Cummings, with his bedroom nearby, glances at his father’s proud accomplishment every day. And when Grant Cummings was a youth player he made a bold prediction to his father.
“He told me, ‘Someday, I will play in that game. Someday, I will be just like you, I will play in that game,” Glenn Cummings said. “He kept his promise.”
Grant Cummings, a Colchester High School standout who made the Free Press All-State first team as defensive player, will play in the Shrine game 35 years after his father helped Vermont top New Hampshire for a rare Green Mountain triumph.
“It was an incredible feeling, knowing that we were the underdogs going into the game,” Glenn Cummings said of the 9-7 Vermont win. “Because Grant is playing in the game, the memories are coming back pretty vividly, it was an awesome — I didn’t want to leave the field.”
The 62nd annual gridiron clash is slated for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Castleton University, where Vermont hopes to end a 14-game losing streak to the Granite State.
And if fate and history are intertwined, Vermont’s chances at victory have improved with the Cummings’ connection.
•Both Grant and Glenn played the same positions in high school: linebacker and fullback.
•Glenn’s Winooski Spartans (1979) and Grant’s Colchester Lakers (2014) each had their seasons ended by eventual champion Middlebury.
•And just like in 1980, the head coach at Middlebury is serving as Vermont’s Shrine coach (Peter Brakeley then; Dennis Smith today).
“The stars are aligning,” Glenn Cumming said. “It would be awesome and I would be overjoyed if Vermont won.”
Grant Cummings said: “That would be something I would remember forever.”
Picking up football in kindergarten, Grant Cummings blossomed from his father’s coaching — Glenn is the president of the Northern Vermont Football League — and turned into a fierce, relentless player when he earned a full-time role as an upperclassman at Colchester High School.
“We played them twice and that kid has got a heart. He was beaten, bloodied and I don’t know what was left of him and that son of gun would pick himself back up, get ready and go 100 percent on the next play,” said Smith, Vermont’s coach. “And that’s what I want in kids, that will give me everything no matter what, good or bad, win or lose, just ready to work hard.
“You can’t teach that in kids, they have it or they don’t and that’s why he is here.”
Saturday, though, is more than just about winning and losing. The bond between one-game teammates lasts a lifetime. And the reason the game held — a fundraising tool for Shriners Hospitals for Children, a network of care centers to treat crippling injuries and burn victims – should make an impression on Grant Cummings, just like it did for his father.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of Grant. And we all want to win, but this is about the Shriners,” said Glenn Cummings, who is bringing what a large group of family and friends to Saturday’s game. “We are definitely going to be repping Grant very well — a big cheering section.”