November 20, 2011

Steve Solloway: Maine football family brings honor to game

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Coach John Hersom, whose family is renowned in Maine football, encourages his Lawrence team as they play Cheverus for the Class A state title Saturday.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

It's a family that deserves the attention simply for what they represent. Twins Mike and Tom graduated from Husson University and moved into classrooms to teach and onto football fields to serve as assistant coaches. Jack also attends Husson and will do his student teaching this spring. Their mother, Roberta, was a teacher and is now a middle school principal in Fairfield.

"I think we just saw how much our parents enjoy what they do," said Jack Hersom, sitting with his aunt and others Saturday. "All we wanted to do was teach and coach."

Even after Saturday. The cousins understand the challenge of picking themselves back up after being knocked down.

Twins John and Jim will deflect accolades, giving credit to their father, just as their own sons give credit to them.

Legacy? Mike, 23, and a third-grade teacher at the Helen Thompson School in West Gardiner, sees strangers approach, asking if he is a Hersom.

"They'll have stories to tell me about my grandfather or I'll find out that the fathers or the uncles of players I coach played with my father and uncle. My grandfather died two years before I was born."

Through the stories of strangers, he and his brothers are getting to know more. Their grandfather stood for something good. He was fair and caring. The good coaches are.

On the field, he was a "wily, sly old dog," said Mike Haley, a contemporary who was in the Fitzpatrick press box Saturday. Away from the game he was a gregarious, sharing teacher and friend.

Cheverus beat Lawrence, 49-7, Saturday. John Hersom and his team could have used that sweater. Jane Hersom Fortier sat with other family members in the huge Lawrence crowd that just about filled the main grandstand on the home side.

She yelled, she cheered, and as the last minutes slipped away, smiled bravely. Afterward, she tried to reach her brother. He's so calm away from the field and so intense on the sideline, she knew from experience how hard he would take the loss.

"It's not quite how we hoped it would turn out," she had said an hour earlier.

She planned to return to her home in Bath while the Class C game between Yarmouth and Bucksport was played.

Then, "of course, I'll be back. With the sweater."

She was at her nephew's game, the Maine letterman's sweater on her back. But lucky talismans can't always turn back talent. Hersom was intercepted during a dramatic and desperate last-minute drive to tie the score. Wells won the Class B championship, 21-13.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:


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