ORONO — Derek Session is committed to achieving his goals, whether on the football field, in the classroom or in the workforce.
He has discovered the road to success can take some unexpected turns. But through the example provided by his mother, Session has learned the value of patience and determination in reaching his destination.
The senior receiver has has been instrumental in the Black Bear football team’s 4-1 start and will be among the players to watch Saturday at 1 p.m. when UMaine takes on longtime rival Rhode Island in the homecoming game at Alfond Stadium.
Session’s value is evident in his talent and his versatility. Although he has spent much of the last two seasons as a slot receiver, he also lines up at running back and wide receiver.
“He does more on our team, on offense, than anybody,” said UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove.
“He’s probably the most comprehensive kid I’ve ever coached in that he does so much for us,” he added. “He gives us a lot of options as a player and in our personnel groupings, that’s a huge benefit.”
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Session is big, strong and fast. This fall, he has made 16 catches for 195 yards and a TD.
He started his career with the Bears as a tailback and has rushed for 849 yards and nine touchdowns on 198 carries (4.2 yards per attempt).
Last season, with Jared Turcotte dealing with injuries and Pushaun Brown poised to start putting up some serious rushing numbers, Session had the skills to line up at different spots.
“He has done so much for us because he can and he wants to,” Cosgrove said. “I think that’s a great compliment to him.”
Although some players fancy themselves as needing to protect their position or their status, the unselfish Session didn’t mind contributing in other ways.
“It didn’t really matter to me as long as I was on the field playing, contributing to the team somehow,” said the young man from Baltimore.
The switch to slot receiver paid dividends for Session and the Bears. He earned All-Colonial Athletic Association third-team honors after leading UMaine with 50 receptions for 580 yards and a touchdown.
Session also takes great pride in his blocking ability, not just in catches, yards and TDs.
“Last week on Terrel Walker’s touchdown, Session’s block is why he walks in (to the end zone),” Cosgrove said. “Derek works hard at that.”
Session said he acquired his flexibility and resilience from his mother, Carolyn Pringle, who gave birth to him as a high school senior.
Pringle had to temporarily put some of her goals, including attending college, on hold. She also dealt with the death of Session’s father when Derek was an infant, and raised him and his younger sister.
Pringle started college, put it on hold to become a barber, then returned to college and earned a nursing degree. Her efforts weren’t lost on her son.
“I saw the things she had to go through, like having a child at such a young age and overcoming that, becoming a nurse, doing what she wanted to do in life,” he said. “That gives you hope.”
Session is thankful for the support provided by his stepfather, Keith Pringle, who became his male role model, along with his grandmothers.
Session was a standout player at Dunbar High School, where he played several positions and twice helped his team win the Class IA state championship. He also was an all-metro and all-state catcher in baseball.
Initially, he seemed destined for Bowl Championship Subdivision football. He received scholarship offers from North Carolina and Virginia.
However, his SAT scores eventually led those programs to withdraw their offers. Still, he retained his motivation.
During the winter of his senior year at Dunbar, he was invited to visit UMaine.
“I was looking for someplace I could see myself staying and enjoying myself for the next four years, where I could grow as a person,” Session said. “Everybody here was close. People on the team were like brothers.”
Session admitted the first year (2007-08) was a struggle. He was far from home and his family and he wasn’t playing.
After offseason shoulder surgery, he returned in 2008 to begin impacting the team as a tailback during his first two seasons with the Bears.
Session, a communication sciences and disorders major, hopes to continue his football career at the professional level, but also is preparing for another career.
“I’ll probably go back to grad school and try to become a speech pathologist,” he said.
As UMaine continues to pursue the CAA title, Session sets high standards for his teammates.
“He’s a great representative of the program, a very prideful kid who does whatever he’s asked and has invested in his future through here,” Cosgrove said. “He’s been a very good student-athlete and person, a great leader, who’s looked up to by our team.”