GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Dylan Cummings is the captain of the Grand Haven High School football team, a member of the wrestling team and a rugby player — but he hasn’t always been a model student. In fact, there were times he wasn’t even allowed to play.
He transferred to Grand Haven Area Schools from Muskegon and said he felt bullied as “the new kid.”
“I would stand up for myself but I wouldn’t use my words. I would use my hands and my feet, and I would get suspended for days,” Cummings, who goes by D.C., said.
Such suspensions continued for years. In eighth grade, he wasn’t allowed to play sports.
“I was easily aggravated,” he said. “I would come home sad, crying, and I really wanted to learn from the mistakes I made.”
Teachers and staff members could tell he had a good heart, even from a young age. Angela Prieditis is a guidance counselor at the high school now but worked at the elementary where Cummings transferred.
“He was always like, ‘Hi, Mrs. Prieditis; Thank you, ma’am.’ You know, he’s so polite and sweet, but always ready to serve,” she said.
Prieditis witnessed a transformation in Cummings: He became a young man who took his energy and put it toward something good.
“I hope the other students and teachers especially and parents can see that and think, OK, there is hope. You’ve got to keep on pushing for those kids and give them a purpose,” Prieditis said.
Cummings’ mom is one of the people who helped him see a better path after he got into a fight and was honest with her about his role in it. She told him she appreciated that he stepped up and took responsibility for what he did.
“(That) changed a big aspect of my life,” Cummings said. “Instead of blaming somebody else for everything, I don’t blame anybody and I just accept it. I was like, yeah, it was a mistake that I made that I have to fix and correct to make me a better person.”
Cummings had other role models as well. His older brother is now a professional rugby player and the two are always in contact. One of the reasons he was lonely is because he missed his brother Aaron — the matching A.C. to his D.C. — when he went off to college.
A.C. helped his younger brother get through the tough times when he felt bullied and showed him how to stand up for other kids going through something similar. D.C. remembers standing up for a younger student within the last year.
“I decided to say something, instead of being a bystander,” he said. “And ever since then, we’ve been really good friends… Nobody really wants to mess with him and I helped him feel more comfortable, from what he’s told me.”
His grandmother also helped by taking him to church and helping him get in touch with his spirit.
Prieditis, who saw the good in Cummings all those years ago in her elementary school classroom, gets emotional now when she thinks about how far he’s come.
“I think it’s really cool for me because I’ve seen him at such a young age and then seeing him here more than blossom, I mean, he’s a shining star at our school,” she said. “For Dylan and for any other students, it’s really finding the good things that they do. We always say, catch them being good. I think that’s such a simple thing.”