Brodhead's DeLorme playing with a shadow
WHITEWATER It’s an hour or so before the Division 4-7 South football team begins practice Wednesday for the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association’s all-star games Saturday at UW-Oshkosh’s Titan Stadium.
Jesse DeLorme is relaxing on the floor talking with teammates in the UW-Whitewater locker room at Perkins Stadium. Soon DeLorme, a Brodhead High graduate, will head to his own personal space—the football field.
“It’s one place I don’t think about anything besides playing football,” DeLorme said. “That’s the best thing for me. I put on the helmet and the pads, and I don’t remember anything.’’
DeLorme and his family have lived with an awful memory since his father, Joel, died in the spring of 2010 when DeLorme was a sophomore.
The shock left DeLorme, his younger brother and sister, Josiah and Kalli, and his mother, Kim, reeling.
“It was difficult,” DeLorme said. “It’s still difficult. We are never going to get over it, but it has really brought us together to understand what family means to you.’’
DeLorme was a two-year varsity standout at middle linebacker and fullback for the Cardinals. He was a two-time offensive and defensive All-Rock Valley first-team pick and was All-State honorable mention his senior year.
As a junior, DeLorme soldiered on in football and had a stellar season, rushing for 1,093 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns. But when the season ended, and his daily contact with teammates stopped, DeLorme had problems.
“Jesse did well during the football season,” Brodhead/Juda coach Jim Matthys said. “When the competition stopped, things got tougher for him.’’
Matthys reached out to DeLorme, but he knew he was dealing with something unfamiliar.
“A lot of things kids go through, I can relate to,” Matthys said. “But what happened to Jesse was a new situation for me.”
DeLorme had trouble coming to grips with his father’s sudden death.
“He was my biggest fan,” DeLorme said. “If he had one of those foam fingers that said No. 1, he’d have my number and name on it.’’
DeLorme said his father was at every game, rain or shine.
“If it was the rainiest day out there, he’d be sitting in the stands watching me play. He gave me those little things of motivation. He’d give me a thumbs up and smile. It was one of the most important things to me.
“I know he was my No. 1 fan, and he still would be.’’
DeLorme can’t explain the hurt.
“I try to explain it to people, but it is one of the most difficult things,” DeLorme said. “You are not going to be able to understand it from where I’m standing.’’
DeLorme started to rebound before his senior season.
“I think part of it was Jesse hung out with quite a few guys in his class, and he knew he had to step up and be the leader,” Matthys said. “He had to relax and control his emotions.’’
Matthys, DeLorme’s teammates and the Brodhead community all provided support to the family.
“All my friends and definitely the community as a whole were always there for me,” DeLorme said. “Coach Matthys had a big role in that. He was always there for me any time I needed to talk. No one could replace my dad for sure, but (Matthys) did a great job in being there for me, and then obviously, there was my family.’’
Slowly, DeLorme found peace.
“Going into my senior year, everything started to click for me, and I started to understand that hanging my head is not doing me any good,” DeLorme said.
DeLorme is looking ahead to better days. He played an all-star football game in Rome, Italy, against an Italian team of 17- to 19-year-olds in April and was named the game’s defensive MVP, making eight tackles, forcing a fumble and snaring an interception.
DeLorme, who will walk on to Northern Iowa’s football team next month, wants to do better in Oshkosh on Saturday.
“I’ll try and push myself to the next level no matter what. … It’s a let-people-know-who- Jesse-DeLorme-is kind of thing.’’
Even though DeLorme has moved on, his father is always with him. On his back is a tattoo of a cross with the words “Forever Loved” as a tribute to his father.
“I could carry around his entire wardrobe,” DeLorme said. “I could carry around a lot of things, but one thing I have is memories, and that’s the most important thing to me.’’