Martin and Patricia Healy may be the most avid football fans that Foothill High School has ever had.
For 18 seasons the Healys have attended an unbroken string of Foothill football games. And at every game, they have been watching one of their seven sons play. Since 1971, a Healy son has played either freshman, sophomore or varsity football.
But the tradition will finally end this year; the Healy’s youngest son, 17-year old Danny, is a senior and ready to graduate.
Danny is playing in his final regular-season game tonight )when Foothill takes on El Modena at Tustin High School.
“It’s sad,” said Patricia Healy, the only Healy who has never played interscholastic football. “I’m not looking forward to it. It’s been so much a part of our lives.”
In a tribute to its most loyal fans, Foothill High School will honor the Healy parents tonight before the game by giving them lifetime passes to Foothill football games.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Martin Healy. “It has been our pleasure. It’s so enjoyable for us.”
The tradition began with the father, who played for Cardinal Hayes High School in New York City in the late 1940s. As the sons were born, the Healys kept suiting them up and sending them onto the field, starting with youth football at age 7 or 8 and continuing through college.
“I guess coming from a family with seven brothers, you like that rough stuff,” said Patricia Healy. She said that while she never had a desire to play, she might want to coach from time to time. “But when I give them advice, they usually just say, ‘Sure, Mom,’ and walk away.”
At one point in 1980, the Healys had five sons playing for five different teams. So mother went to the home games while father took to the road. Between them, they still managed to catch each of their sons’ games.
The Healy sons all seem to have been cut from the same mold. They are all stocky--5 feet, 7 inches to 5 feet, 9 inches, and 180 to 220 pounds. All but one played defense. Four of the brothers played or are now playing in college.
“They’re very physical, very emotional and very competitive,” said Terry Munhall, a member of the Foothill staff who has coached three of the Healys.
And the Healys are usually pretty good. “Each year, opposing coaches ask, ‘Where’s Healy playing this year?’ ” Munhall said.
But there is some argument as to who is the best. Both parents remain neutral on the issue. “That really is a tough call,” said Martin Healy, carefully avoiding a definitive answer.
Only One Championship
Brian, 19, starts at nose guard at Fullerton Junior College where the team is still undefeated in eight games. Chris, 27, played at Saddleback College and Mike, 29, played at San Diego State University. Marty, 30, and Matt, 26, went to college but did not join the football teams.
Only one son, 24-year-old John, has been on a championship team. In 1981, Foothill defeated El Modena in a triple-overtime thriller for the California Interscholastic Federation, Southern Section, division championship.
Their football seasons still decorate the Healy home. The living room walls in the Healy home are lined with plaques and trophies--and seven pictures of the Healy sons dressed in red sweaters and dark ties. Boxes of old sneakers and cleats are collected in several of the adjoining rooms.
But there will be no more of that after this year. “I guess all good things must come to an end,” Patricia Healy said.