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By Matt DiFilippo, Staff Writer
Sometimes, Danny Noyes will be in his dorm room at Colby College, and he'll take a moment to check the time. Often, the time will be exactly 5:02.
For Noyes, the number has a powerful meaning. It was the call number and license plate number of his father, Sgt. James S. Noyes, a New Hampshire state trooper who was killed in the line of duty a little more than six years ago. For Danny, seeing that number on the clock is a reminder that his father is still looking out for him.
"I don't always look up to see what time it is," said Danny, a 20-year-old junior on the Colby football team, "but when I look up, and it's 5:02, that kind of gets me thinking."
Noyes has reminders of his father while starring on the field for the White Mules. He has "502" on decals on his helmet, as he has since his freshman year in high school. During the national anthem before each game, Noyes takes time to remember his father and think about his family. When the game begins, he uses the lessons his father taught him years ago.
"I've learned determination from him," Noyes said. "I've learned confidence in myself, and that all comes out on the football field. I guess it's just the only way now I have to express myself and express my desire."
On the field, Noyes' arrival as one of the top players in the New England Small College Athletic Conference has coincided with Colby's resurgence as one of the conference's top teams. The White Mules are 6-1 entering today's season finale at 1 p.m., against visiting Bowdoin, and have a chance to gain at least a share of the conference title.
Noyes, who is listed as a wide receiver on the Colby roster, leads the Mules in receiving and rushing. This year, his mix of abundant physical tools and tireless determination have blended into dynamite.
"He's just a really driven person," said Colby head coach Tom Austin. "He's been blessed with exceptional God-given skills, and really works hard to maximize those skills."
It has seemed Noyes could do anything at times this year. He leads the NESCAC in receiving and is 10th in the conference in rushing. He has scored on an 80-yard run and a 65-yard touchdown reception, and thrown a 57-yard TD pass.
"What a special athlete we have here," Austin said. "If we could clone him, we'd be all set, that's for sure."
Austin added that he has seen other players with similar athletic skills, but that Noyes' desire catapults him to the next level of performance. That desire is part of the legacy he carries on for his father.
"I think it made be a better person today," Noyes said. "I don't take anything for granted. I try hard in everything I do, because I know he's watching."
James Noyes was a 17-year member of the state police force, but the first thing people remember about him is his love for his family. Retired Lieutenant John Stevens, who served with Noyes in Troop E in Tamworth, N.H., said Noyes' devotion to his family was "incredible."
"I remember that he was probably the biggest family man I've ever known," Danny said. "Often times, he'd give up assignments, promotions, to be with us. And the force recognized that, too, and he earned a lot of respect because of it."
On the night of Oct. 2, 1994, James was enjoying a Sunday evening with his family at their home in Madison, N.H. when he was called into duty in nearby Gilford. This did not alarm his family, as he was called away once or twice a month when the services of the local SWAT team were needed.
On this night, the SWAT team responded to a 70-year-old man named James Monsante, who had threatened to harm himself and was in possession of several automatic weapons.
Noyes acted as the negotiator for the SWAT team, and over the course of several hours persuaded Monsante to give up all but one of his firearms.
"He was down to a rifle, an automatic rifle," said Danny. "My father saw an opportunity to reach for it, and when he did, he grabbed it, and the guy just pulled it and started going off.
"He was shot three times. One in the wrist. One in the calf. And the other one that entered right under his arm, which avoided the vest, and that was the fatal shot.
"I believe he was dead within a few minutes, so it wasn't long or painstaking. They rushed him to the hospital, but there was nothing they could do."
James Noyes left behind a wife and three children. For Danny, just 14 at the time, his focus went from his junior varsity football game that Monday afternoon to dealing with his grief.
"A guy on the team lost his mother a week or two ago," he said. "There's nothing that anybody can say to him, or nothing they could say to us to help us through it. It was just, you had to deal with it."
In the week after the tragedy, hundreds of people came by to help Danny and his family. At Sgt. Noyes' funeral, Danny estimates there were around 1,000 police officers, including some from as far away as Michigan and Texas.
Danny continued in his athletic career at Kennett High School in Conway, N.H., starring in football, baseball and skiing, serving as team captain in all three sports and earning numerous athletic honors. He originally planned to play all three sports at Colby, but decided to stop playing baseball, and his competitive skiing is limited to a memorial race each year for his father.
"Every March, we go up to Attitash (in Bartlett, N.H.), and about 250 people come to race and have fun, in memory of my father," Danny said. "I've won every year. Maybe that's because of my talent, but I think it's also because it's my day, because it's his day."
Often, something will happen nowadays which will make Danny think of his father seeing the number, "502," or watching a police cruiser drive by.
"It's come to the point where it's not a sad reminder anymore," he said. "It's more like an empowering reminder. It's not always sad. Actually, very few times, it's sad. I think about him a lot."
Danny also receives a daily reminder of his father, by seeing how closely his family has bonded together. In death, a man for whom family was always the most important thing brought that family even closer to each other.
"I'd say the main thing that I got from the whole experience was unity with my family," Danny said. "My brother and I are inseparable. Whenever he's at my games, I have him come down to the sideline and stand with me for the national anthem."
Several friends of the family also come to watch Noyes play for Colby. Retired officer John Stevens is one, as he has gone to see six of Colby's seven games this season.
"You look at everyone after the games, all the players talking to their family," Noyes said. "They've got three or four people there. Then you look at me. I have 20 people hanging around, and that's all because of the closeness of my family.
"My brother comes, brings his girlfriend. My girlfriend's there, with her family. My mom's brothers and my dad's brothers and a few state police. The guys joke about it: 'Oh, the Noyes clan's here again.' But I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Noyes is a sociology major at Colby with a minor in education. He wants to be a football coach, and knows at the high school level that means he'll need to be a teacher as well. Nate, his older brother by two years, will soon take the state police test in New Hampshire.
For Danny, the best gift he can give his father is to be as strong as his father was. Many have noted his kind personality, and modesty despite all his athletic success. Austin and Stevens both can attest to his friendly sense of humor.
"He's certainly a ferocious competitor, but I think it goes much further than that," said Stevens, who has known him for 15 years. "Danny is a person who truly cares about people. He has a warm personality and a great sense of humor. Certainly a joy to be around."
"Before I make decisions, I often find myself thinking, 'What would he do?' " Danny said. "And I want to be like him. In my eyes, in many people's eyes, he was the perfect gentleman, the perfect family man and the perfect friend. Big shoes to fill, but I'll try."
The Colby Difference: The Inauguration of William D. Adams
Nuclear Fiction: Daniel Traister '63 Delves Into the Fiction of World War II
The Hot Zone and the Cold War: Frank Malinoski '76 Investigates Biological Warfare
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