I am one of the many who were blessed with having Jerome as a coach. In high school, my main motivation for turning out for track was to stay in shape during the off seasons of my other two sports, volleyball and basketball. Little did I know the impact that decision would have.
Track was my least favorite season for sports. I would become so nervous before my events, and practices were usually straight conditioning—not exactly my idea of a fun time. However, Jerome was the kind of person who somehow became your favorite coach despite coaching your least favorite sport (at least that’s what happened with me). He was just the right balance of challenging me to push harder than I thought I could go and encouraging me when I felt like giving up. He never let hard work and perseverance go unnoticed.
My junior year, the 4x400 meter relay team I was part of qualified for state. I remember Jerome jumping up and down celebrating with me and the three others who ran with me. He was so proud of us. That state track meet experience with Jerome and the amazing ladies on the relay is something I will cherish forever.
After high school, I left Centralia and went down to Oregon for my higher education. Every now and again, though, I’d run into Jerome while visiting my family in town. He always seemed so excited to see me and would greet me with a big hug. We'd catch up on each other’s lives, reminisce on the good ol’ days (when he’d tell me to repeatedly sprint a quarter of a mile, and for some reason I’d do it), and he’d tell me again how proud he was of the woman I turned out to be. I always knew he truly meant it.
What an awesome, genuine man. The world definitely lost a light, but I’m so glad he’s no longer suffering and is now in the presence of our Savior. I cannot wait to see him again in heaven and give him another giant hug.