After serving for nearly 10 years as a member of the Jefferson County Football Boosters group, current treasurer Francine Kidrick says it is time to step down. The always-smiling, hard-working woman began as a volunteer with the group in 2004 because she loved the game.
"I loved football and I loved being around the students," Kidrick said this week. But, she said, the job was a lot of work and it's time to take a break and let others pick up the load.
Kidrick currently works as an aide at Jefferson High School, a job she took after retiring from Potomac Edison (now Allegheny Power Company) after 26 years of service. Hoping to get a position working with kindergarten age students, Kidrick said that she began as a substitute and worked up to a full-time position, just not in the elementary school. The position came at Jefferson where she works with moderate mentally impaired students. She also spends each afternoon riding a bus to James Rumsey with a student and assisting that student with studies in graphic communications.
Once at Jefferson, and always a fan of football, Kidrick got hooked helping with the booster program.
"At that time, Mary Sperry was treasurer and she got me involved," Kidrick said. When Sperry became ill, Kidrick stepped up to help with the finances until Sperry could return. Sadly, Sperry was unable to return and later passed away. Kidrick stayed.
The booster group has never been a large one, Kidrick said. There were, according to her, a group of dedicated folks who kept it going. Among those whom she says she owes gratitude are Sperry, Laurie Ogden, Robin Hosby, Letitia Hyler, Bev Bolger, Assunta Wight and Tina Carter.
"This group I worked with," she said, "I thank them so much for all the good years we worked together."
The group plays a strong supporting role to the football program, not only by providing meals to players before games, but serving them as well.
"Football players love to eat," Kidrick laughed.
She shared that the players over the years have always been respectful and thankful for what the booster group provides. She was able to develop relationships with many of the players, seeing them in the hallways at Jefferson as well as at football games.
Kidrick spent Friday nights during football season selling goods at the Spirit Table as well as 50/50 tickets to help raise money for the program. She organized and kept track of the annual mulch sale which is the largest fundraiser done by the group. In addition to those fundraisers, there have been sponsorships, discount cards and other ventures for which she kept financial records.
"Francine Kidrick has been at the heart of Jefferson Football for many years," said current Booster President Eric Lewis. "Everything the Boosters has accomplished, every piece of equipment purchased, every bag of mulch sold can be traced back to Francine Kidrick and her dedication to the kids of the Football Program. We all owe her a huge debt of gratitude for the time she has taken out of her life to give to the program," he said.
As treasurer, Kidrick was responsible for all paperwork that has to be filed with the school system's finance office as well as keeping all of the records.
"I kept spreadsheets for the mulch sale," she laughed, "and approvals for things and all kinds of paperwork."
Never a parent of a player during her service on the Boosters, Kidrick said that she will miss the interaction with the players the most.
"I will miss the rapport with the kids and being able to serve them," she said. "I loved talking to them before a game and trying to spark them."
That interaction will not all change, however, as Kidrick said she will continue to work the ticket booth at the games and will continue to watch the Cougars play.
But, she said, "Players change, parents change and it's time to move on. I wish the best of luck to the new regime," she added saying that of course, she would be around to answer questions if needed.
In the meantime, Kidrick says she plans to continue working both at Jefferson and as a mentor to young children at Asbury United Methodist Church in Shepherdstown after school. Those students, ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade, attend Shepherdstown schools are part of the School Sharpener Program at the church.
In addition, Kidrick says she and husband, Charles, who is a football coach at Shepherdstown Middle School, formerly an assistant at Jefferson High, enjoy their nine grandchildren.