With his piloting skills acquired in the United States Air Force, Colonel Doug Damon was happy to put his skillset to use to help the coaches of the University of Maine on the recruiting trail. So, it comes as little surprise that his son, Derek, would quickly grow fond of the Black Bears. He even got to tag along on a few of his dad’s trips. Derek reminisced, "In the summer of ’91 or ’92, I remember going for a run around Lake Placid with Shawn Walsh, and him saying, ‘One day I want to see you playing for me up here.’"
A native of Bangor, Maine, Damon was only a preteen at the time, but no doubt that dream already had seeped into his mind. "I learned how to skate on the Alfond," Derek recalled. "I learned how to skate just by hanging on the back of (my dad’s) jeans."
The prophecy almost came true. Unfortunately, Walsh had passed away before Damon would enroll at Maine, but still, when the offer came to play in Orono, it was hardly a decision for Derek. "That was a dream of mine to play for Maine, and so, when I had the opportunity, I couldn’t turn it down."
Even though incoming coach Tim Whitehead wasn’t responsible for recruiting Derek, he had noticed him during his time at UMass-Lowell. Seeing Derek up close would give a whole new impression of him. "He had to improve his skating," Whitehead noted. "I practiced him … at defense. It gave him an opportunity to really become a complete player."