DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — It’s the first Friday of the 2021 high school football season. The stands are packed, the stadium is bustling, and the footballs are ready to go.
But inside the North Davidson locker room, minutes before kickoff against Reagan, all the noise is canceled out except for the voice of head coach Brian Flynn.
“He had one dream or one goal at the end of the day. Yes, it was to beat cancer and get through this, but he wanted to suit up with you guys again,” Flynn emphasized in his pre-game locker room speech, referencing Gavin Hill. “That’s what he wanted the chance to do.”
Some didn’t know if Gavin would ever be in this room in a Black Knights uniform again.
“Seven, eight rounds of chemo. Immunotherapy. Radiation,” Flynn continued.
“Where were you at this morning?” he asked Gavin.
“Radiation,” Gavin responded.
“Radiation,” Flynn repeated. “5:15 in the morning.”
Gavin spent his summer in and out of treatments after battling his second round of neuroblastoma – all with the determination to suit up as the starting quarterback once again.
“The will to fight,” Flynn said of Gavin. “Do it for each other. Do it for that young man right there. Let’s do it for these Black Knights, let’s go right here.”
The Black Knights huddled together before running out on the field – Gavin’s first time back fully suited since he found out about his return of cancer.
“It means a lot for everybody just to see me come back out here,” he said.
A comeback from a major setback.
Gavin described his journey back to the field, “Getting home from chemo, being in the hospital six days a week and going to the gym, getting on the elliptical and doing whatever I had to do just to keep my body moving and healthy.”
Everything he did paid off when his doctors told him he was cleared to start week one.
Gavin’s dad Tony Hill remembers clearly what it was like when the doctor gave him the green light to start in week one.
“He said, ‘Gav, I’m going to let you play. We’re going to get that port taken out,'” Tony recalled. “It was a big sigh of relief knowing how bad Gavin wants it.”
And all of a sudden – it was more than just a football game.
“To be able to run out and grab the orange grass on the ND and just put it on my chest – that’s just a great feeling,” Gavin said. “It’s a blessing in itself.”
“The amazing supporting cast that was up in the stands with us was cool,” Tony added. “To see the smiles on their faces as well, because they’ve been praying as hard as anybody else. To have that satisfaction of seeing him step foot on this field again has been a tremendous blessing.”
“I saw him warming up there – helmet. Of course, he was with us in the spring a lot of the times, but actually warming up and throwing – that’s when I was like whoa man, this is cool,” Flynn remembered about week one.
A journey of triumph that’s only just beginning for Gavin. As he enters his eighth round of chemotherapy – he continues defying the odds and beating cancer in more ways than one.
“He proved to everybody that he can do it and he’s been like that since he was 5 years old,” Tony summarized. “He’s just been one of those kids.”
Reagan defeated North Davidson, 41-19, but the game was still a win for Gavin.