“I have a box at home that says ‘For Heidelberg’,” says Jane Hoernemann Hieronymus, the daughter of Paul “The Fox” Hoernemann. While she says her father was “not a saver” of memorabilia, the box does contain a few key mementos from his legendary football coaching career. These items are now earmarked for permanent display in the Fox Den Alumni Center of Heidelberg’s new Athletic Stadium.
“That’s where they should be,” says Jane, who has had a life long relationship with Heidelberg, education and sports that began in the years she and her brother were growing up in the Hoernemann family home.
“On Sunday after church I would watch the game films with my father. We’d watch them back and forth, back and forth and he’d say ‘you look at the right tackle and tell me what you see.’ I got used to watching football that way,” she laughed.
While he may have been happy to hear her observations at home, Jane stated this wasn’t always true when she saw Heidelberg play in person, since her father did not believe in his family getting any special attention.
“When we went to the games, my father would say, ‘You go to the top of the stands and keep your mouth shut,’ she dutifully recalled, adding that this wasn’t much of a problem since the teams played so well. “We saw very few losses so we didn’t have to deal with that!”
Later in life, Jane found that keeping quiet also proved to be the right thing to do in a very different setting, this time when she took her mother to see her father inducted into the Ohio High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“This was great for my mother, she was really thrilled,” Jane said. But she realized this also meant her mother was going to be asked to say a few words, which might be hard for her.
“My mother said to me, ‘Now, what am I going to say?’ So I said to her, ‘I think you should just say ‘thank you very much’. And that was what she did. And she got a standing ovation. And I said, ‘See, mother, you did well!’”
Her father’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame was also very meaningful for entire family, both for the honor, and because of the many Foxmen and others who attended the ceremony.
“So many from Heidelberg were there,” she said. “It was very humbling.”
Today, the efforts of the Foxmen and Heidelberg’s leaders to name the Stadium and Fox Den Alumni Center after her father have touched Jane and her family in a similar way. She and her husband, Ted Hieronymus, a Heidelberg graduate and Trustee, are honored to have her father associated with the project and to make their own major gift towards its success.
“We’ve been giving all along, but for this we said we’d make a special gift,” she said.
“When I went to Heidelberg, everyone went to the games. Our whole lives were tied up with what was happening in college,” she added, reflecting back.
But, being her father’s daughter, Jane has her eye on the ball when it comes to Heidelberg’s future, too.
“My husband and I worked in education for 30 years. It’s different now,” she said, “It’s good to see what Heidelberg is giving students now. It’s outstanding what’s being done.”