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Coach's mom is dedicated fan

Herlehy has been a football mom for 40 years
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Foresthill Name: Gayle Herlehy Occupation: Teacher at Sutter Middle School in Sacramento Player's name, team and number: Mom of Foresthill High varsity coach Jim Herlehy Q: Why do you love going to the Foresthill games? A: “It’s the people in the community. They just come forward and make the most positive experience they can for these players.” Q: What compels you to show so much spirit? A: “Fans are the 13th man. They can have a decisive impact on keeping the boys encouraged. They love hearing we fans in the stands. It’s a very important spot. They desire to be appreciated. It’s all the bigger schools, the ‘Del Oro’s’, that get the recognition. When you look at these smaller schools, most the kids play football, compared to the percentage of kids that play at bigger schools. To have a school that has slightly over 200 (students) and to have a JV and Varsity squad is amazing — look at the facilities they’ve got. (Sebastian Corp) donated over $300,000 to put those lights in the stadium. That’s astounding for a little community. When Max was 6 the entire town came out to the fundraisers. My son is very demanding. Every year I have people come up and say that he has changed their lives because so much of it is character. You know, going to practice when you don’t feel like it. He insists on them keeping their grades up.” Editor’s note: Max Herlehy, the coach’s son, passed away earlier this year, on May 18, from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Q: What do you do to show your spirit for the team? A: “I holler and I scream and I donate money and I buy things from the booster club. We have this special thing before each game. I go up and give Jimmy a hug.” Q: What game or moment has been your favorite so far this season? A: “I remember there was a game where the kids were playing flat. I think they went on to win the game anyways, but their hearts weren’t in it. The next game they came out and they were hitting hard. I think that is what gets me the most, to see their enthusiasm.” Q: What do you enjoy about high school football? A: “I love the fun. I love the passion. I love seeing families together, the water boys, the cheerleaders, the kids playing in the end zone, the entire environment, the music. I have four sons and they all played football. I’ve been going to football games for decades. I teach emotionally disturbed kids. When they get in a program with this kind of structure and they know people are counting on them, they blossom. Jimmy has had a passion for this since he could barely talk. I remember when my youngest son was 4 or 5 years old they would be diagramming plays.” Q: How does your life change during football season? How much of your time is dedicated toward it? A: “What changes for my family is this (football) is the priority. Now I have three foster kids and I wouldn’t dream of not going to the games. This season is dedicated to Max and all the players have a little football with Max written in it on their helmets.” Q: What is your favorite phrase, chant or cheer that you like to shout out during games? A: “There is, ‘hit somebody, hard!’ ‘Did that feel good?’ if they get a really hard hit. ‘Who wants it more?’ They have to decide every play. Either you hit first, or you get hit. There is a lot of life lessons to be learned in football. It’s such a team sport. In football if you don’t do your job it affects the whole team. If one lineman lets someone get past, they could take out the quarterback for the whole season.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.