FORT MILL -- Linda Shaw is mother, dad, best friend and biggest fan to her two children, Julie Ann, a 19-year-old sophomore at South Carolina, and Jared, a senior at Fort Mill High School and one of the Yellow Jackets' best football players.
Since 1998, when her husband, David Dean Shaw, passed away after a brain aneurysm, Linda has made her kids her top priority. Practice or a game, Linda is there start to finish.
"My children are my life,'' said Linda, a secretary at Fort Mill's Springfield Elementary School. "Whatever they are interested in, I'm interested in it too because they are really great kids.
"I'm very proud of Jared. He's a great kid and a great athlete and has a strong work ethic. We have a family motto posted on a sign in at home -- 'We interrupt this family for football season.' When Jared plays or practices, I'll be there.''
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She'll be there Friday night, when Fort Milll takes on Nation Ford at Bob Jones Stadium in the first-ever meeting between the town's two high schools.
She's never given getting re-married a thought. She wants to be ready to go at the drop of a hat, to be there any time her children need her, such as when Julie Ann was younger, and Linda was her taxi driver to and from dance lessons.
Jared dedicates every game to his dad, who passed away when Jared was 8. He wears white wrist bands with his dad's initials written in Fort Mill blue.
His dad coached him in all sports when he was old enough to play after the family moved to Fort Mill from Atlanta in 1989. Linda didn't take up his coaching duties, but she tries to help.
"She really is at every practice from the time we start to the time we finish,'' Jared said. "Even before I started driving, she would take me to practice and stay. She loves football, thinks she knows everything about the game.
"After I get home on Friday nights, she'll be up waiting for me. She'll tell me, 'If you would have done this ...' I'll stop her and say: 'Mom, that wasn't the play. You don't know what the play was. I'm supposed to do what the coaches tell me.'''
They never argue.
Jared said his mom is a great tennis player, a sport she played in high school. His dad was a standout wrestler and baseball player in Indiana and had scholarships offers for both sports.
Instead, David Dean followed his dream of joining the Navy, and after serving his time became a surveyor. He took a job in Louisiana, where he met Linda while surveying the Mississippi River.
Linda, 46, grew up in Slidell, La., and graduated from LSU. She totes an LSU handbag and is a Tigers fan for life.
The Shaws are about as close as a family can get. On fall Saturday nights when Jared's teammates are out ripping and roaring, he's watching college football with his mom.
When the LSU games are on television, they watch them at home. When they aren't, the Shaws have friends with satellite college football packages who let them come over and watch.
"We grouse around until we find someone who will let us come over and watch, and we see most of LSU's games,'' Linda said. "Jared would like to play at LSU but he's not quite at that level.''
Jared is a hard-nosed, 100 percent-type player. He is Fort Mill's top defensive back and made the All-Region 3-AAAA team and was first-team Herald All-Area last year. But at 6-foot, 176 pounds he'll likely have to play at a lower division school.
Jared's first choice is Coastal Carolina and has received literature from the school.
He has scored three touchdowns this season, one at wide receiver on a pass from Danny Till.
Two weeks ago, he almost single-handedly beat Lewisville 15-7. In the final 8:48, he had an 82-yard punt return and 32-yard interception return for touchdowns.
Tuesday, Fort Mill coach Ed Susi handed Jared the plaque he won for being chosen the Founders Federal Tri-County Coaches Association's defensive player of the week. He handed the plaque to his mom and said, "This is for you.'' She plans to hang it in her office at Springfield Elementary.
In his third varsity season, Jared averages playing all but five snaps a game, those coming when he gets a breather on offense. He started seven of 11 games as a sophomore.
Susi is Jared's third coach in three years. Rusty Jester was the coach last year, but moved to Nation Ford, which plays Fort Mill in an historic first game Friday at Fort Mill's Bob Jones Stadium.
"I've liked all of my coaches and every one of them have their strengths,'' Jared said. "But I really like coach Susi. He's a complete coach, what you'd expect a football coach to be. He's tough on us, but it's to make us better. He's a players' coach. He doesn't allow negative thoughts and he's a great motivator.''
Even though Jared graduates this year, his mom thinks she'll still be involved with Fort Mill sports, but isn't "sure just yet."
She's done it "for years," joining Stacy Wright and Julie Wells as the team's football moms who take care of special needs and see that the team is fed on Fridays.
But she does know this.
"If Jared plays football somewhere, I'm there," she said.
FRIDAY'S PREP FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Nation Ford at Fort Mill, 7:30 p.m.
Richland NE at South Pointe, 7:30 p.m.
Northwestern at North Augusta, 7:30 p.m
A.C. Flora at Chester, 8 p.m.
Calhoun Falls at Great Falls, 7:30 p.m.
Indian Land at Pageland Central, 8 p.m.
Hartsville at Lancaster, 7:30 p.m.
Lewisville at Whitmire, 7:30 p.m.
Kennedy Charter at WCCS, 7:30 p.m.