WOODLAND – Kerry Lambert surveys the Woodland High School football field. Her husband is giving a postgame speech to his La Center football team, led at quarterback by her oldest son. Two of her three daughters are taking photos with their cheer team on the asphalt track. Her youngest son, smile on his face, is running around on the turf.
The Wildcats lost 41-24 on that sunny Saturday afternoon. But that matters little during this moment.
Kerry Lambert has poured in plenty of time and effort into supporting John, Jane, Tom, Mary and now, Lynda, and soon, Scotty, as part of the La Center football team. Sometimes, she looks back at all those years and wonders if it was all worth it.
“On days like today, where we’re all together,” Kerry says, taking a moment to compose herself before starting again. “On days like today, I never question it.”
The Lambert family is La Center football. John has coached the Wildcats for 22 years. Kerry is the sideline videographer for the team. Their oldest daughter, Jane, was a cheerleader before graduating in 2019. The twins, Tom and Mary, are quarterback and head cheerleader, respectively, this season. Lynda is a freshman cheerleader. Scott, 4, will start handling ball boy duties next year.
“I learned early on, that if your family isn’t involved in the sport, it’s going to be a tough time,” Kerry said. “The sooner we got them involved, the more they were going to enjoy it.”
The 2020-21 school year was supposed to be a big one for the Lambert family. Tom is the captain of the football team. Mary is the head cheerleader and ASB president. Lynda is in her first year with Wildcats cheer.
Prom, homecoming, state tournaments: the biggest planned moments were stripped away due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been full of a lot of disappointments,” Mary said.
But within the struggles, the family has only grown closer. When else does everybody, of any generation or walk of life, go through strife together and experience similar frustrations?
“Not just for our family, but our kids’ generation, they will all experience something together with their grandparents and parents and each other, and I think it will bring families closer,” Kerry said. “The family time we’ve had this year, that’s been our silver lining.”
Mary will attend Whitworth University next year. She hopes to cheer. Tom is still deciding where to play football next season. For the first time, the twins will be apart.
“We drive to school together; we leave practice together; we have most of our classes together; we eat lunch together,” Mary said. “It’s going to be a huge adjustment to not have someone with you all the time.”
The two have learned a lot from one another. Their relationship has ebbed and flowed over time, but now, they are inseparable.
“She is probably one of the nicest people I know,” Tom said of his sister. “She just always wants to make other people happy and make their life better.”
Said Mary: “I think he has great integrity. I think he’s one of the funniest guys I know and he’s just a positive person to be around.”
Friday will be the last time this many Lamberts will take part in a Wildcat football game. That’s something to be cherished.
“Ever since we were little, football was always the center of our life,” Mary said. “Finally having my little sister with me and getting to see Tom’s senior season finally happen, it was super exciting. I’m glad we got that.”
The Wildcats host Castle Rock at 7 p.m. Friday. After the game – win or lose – Tom will hug his father. Mary will hug her sister. And Kerry will again take a moment to cherish the time spent together as part of La Center football.
“I should rattle off a chain of accomplishments, but it’s not that,” Kerry said of what she is most proud. “It’s the kindness and love they have for each other, for our whole family.”