By Mason Kelley
When Dexter Charles needs to get away, he drives north. Once he crosses the Stillaguamish River, he is able to shed the stress that comes with being a Division I football player.
“As soon as I cross that bridge going across the Stilly up there, it’s just a weight lifted off me,” Charles said.
For the 6-foot-5, 311-pound offensive lineman from Camano Island, going home is his escape. He drives out of the city and into the woods.
“I’m a country boy at heart,” the junior said with a laugh. “I was born and raised in the middle of nowhere.”
Some of his fondest memories are spending time in the elements with his “best friends,” his brother, Andrew Nickell, and his father, Dennis. Whether it was four-wheeling or hunting, a wide smile spreads across Charles’ face when he talks about a childhood spent exploring the outdoors.
A few months ago, Charles added some ambiance for his trips home, building a fire pit and a few log chairs at his parent’s house.
“We get up there, light a fire and hang out,” he said.
When asked to describe his ideal day, he said he would grab his brother and father and head for the woods. There would be music playing. They would “shoot some skeet,” and “enjoy the country air.”
“We would just enjoy the day,” Charles said.
He doesn’t many opportunities to head home with the season in full swing, but he tries to fit in a visit once or twice a month. The visits provide an opportunity to rest, relax and catch up with his family. The chance to recharge in the woods helps him prepare for successful Saturdays in the city.