Football As Family

Katrina Evacuees Find Home on Goldwater Squad

The 24-7 staff spends a ton of time looking at and breaking down football games.  Questions about bench press, forty times, vertical jump, offers from schools, offensive and defensive schemes dominant this site. As much as we love it, in the big picture, football is just a game. Recent events in the Gulf Coast region of the United States helped put into perspective just how lucky many of us are as we saw evacuees come to our city from the New Orleans area.  Two such evacuees are Jared and Jesse Hernandez, who along with their parents, were able to get out of New Orleans just hours before Katrina hit.  The family is currently living in a donated RV in north Phoenix and the boys are attending Goldwater High School.  Helping the transition from one school to another is the fact that Jared and Jesse are now a part of the Goldwater football squad. Goldwater head coach Dan Friedman sums up the story best when he says, "They (Jesse and Jared) put things in perspective for us. They have adapted very well. Our team has done a fantastic job of letting them into our football family." Jesse Hernandez was able to spend some time with us and let us know how things are going for him and his family.  In doing this story 24-7 was humbled by the resilient nature of the Hernandez family and the generosity of the people of Phoenix.


24-7: How are you and your family adjusting to the Valley?

Jesse Hernandez: Everybody has been great.  It is really nice.  It is real nice out here.  We are living in an RV. A lady was nice enough that she gave us her RV.  It has a TV and beds.  We are doing really well.


24-7: Are you and your family planning on staying here in the Phoenix area?

Jesse Hernandez: Oh yea, we are planning on staying.  Probably until we graduate.  We do not want to keep moving.  Changing schools and switching football teams. 


24-7: What grade are you and your brother in?

Jesse Hernandez: We are both sophomores.  We are twins but we do not look anything alike.  My brother Jared is about 6'5 and weighs 280 with blond hair and blue eyes.  I'm  6'2 240 and have black hair and brown eyes. 


24-7: What positions do you and your brother play?

Jesse Hernandez: I play noseguard and linebacker and I can play fullback.  Jared plays right tackle on offense. 


24-7: Did you and your family live in New Orleans or outside of New Orleans? 

Jesse Hernandez: We lived about a mile outside of New Orleans.


24-7: What high school did you attend?

Jesse Hernandez: We went to Chalmette High School. The Owls.


24-7: What is the status of your former high school?  Will it open up anytime soon?

Jesse Hernandez: No. No, they are using it as a morgue.


24-7: How is everybody doing?

Jesse Hernandez: My family is all right.  But one of the things I left there (New Orleans) was my phone book that had all my friends numbers in it.  Right now I have no clue if everybody is all right.


24-7: How did you and your family get to Phoenix?


Jesse Hernandez: We stayed in Mississippi for about two weeks.  I wanted to go to Tucson.  My Mom has some friends in Tucson.  My dad wanted to go to Phoenix so that is how we got here.


24-7: Have your parents been able to get work?

Jesse Hernandez: My dad just got a job.  He is installing burglar alarms and smoke detectors.  My Mom is a hairstylist and has been for twenty-five years.


24-7: How is the transition to Goldwater going?

Jesse Hernandez: Everybody has been very nice and accommodating.  It is different but I can get the hang of it real quick.


24-7: How is it different from your previous school?

Jesse Hernandez: The school we came from was really small.  It had about 700 students.  Goldwater has about 2,200 kids, it is huge!


24-7: Did being involved in football did it help in the transition?

Jesse Hernandez: Oh yea!  Football is all about family.  Everybody is acting like my brother.  It is tough coming from a close knit football family back at Chalmette.  Everybody here has just been great.  Practicing and everything has been great, you get to make a lot of friends. 


24-7: How do you compare the football in Louisiana to the football Arizona?

Jesse Hernandez: The teams here are not that big.  Back home the teams had like seventy kids on them.  Last year we went 11-2 and the year before that we went 12-1.


24-7: Who does Goldwater play this week?

Jesse Hernandez: Corona del Sol, Jared and I can't play yet because of eligibility reasons. Since we transferred in we have to wait two weeks.


24-7: As someone who was born and raised in New Orleans do you feel the city will recover?

Jesse Hernandez: Definitely!  New Orleans is a big part of the United States.  It is a big building block of the economy.  The United States is not the same without New Orleans. 


24-7 would like to thank the Hernandez family for their time.  Also Coach Friedman for his help with this story.  On the message board we will have a link to the story and links to sites that help victims of the recent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast.



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