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Youth coach Jerry Watson was biggest cheerleader for countless kids

Jerry Watson and family

The Watson family: Jenna (seated, left), Jerry, Jill, J.T. (standing, left), and Jay. Jerry Watson died Jan. 4. He was a big supporter of area youth sports, coaching many teams over the years. Courtesy photo

Over the last 14 years, Jerry Watson touched many lives as a coach and youth sports advocate in the Marble Falls area. He died at the age of 60 on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.

Watson is survived by his wife, Jill; sons, Jay and J.T.; and daughter, Jenna, who is a Marble Falls High School junior and cheerleader. His two sons graduated from Marble Falls in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

“Jerry was all about his family,” said Marble Falls High School cheer coach Lauren Berkman. “He loved his kids fiercely and always made arrangements to be there for their extracurricular activities despite a demanding travel schedule.”

Watson was the Marble Falls Athletic Booster Club cheerleader representative. 

Supporting youth sports was a passion. He became a volunteer coach in 2000 when his family lived in Buda. After they moved to Marble Falls in 2006, he wasted little time getting into coaching the area’s young people. Over the years, he coached youth football, basketball, and baseball. 

Watson attended countless Marble Falls Middle School and high school contests and made the time to catch up with the kids he coached long after they hung up their jerseys. 

“He was always upbeat, he always had a smile on his face, he had a great attitude,” recalled James Fry, who was on one of Watson’s teams. “He always asked how your family is doing. He was a good friend. If Jerry was your friend, he was your friend for life. He was a good person to talk to.”

And loyal and forgiving, too.

Fry, who graduated from Marble Falls in 2013, played under Watson on a 7-on-7 football team. He admitted he didn’t always agree with the coach’s calls. 

And he might not have been shy about expressing his opinions.

“You know how kids are,” Fry said. “I got heated, and I thought I’d lost a friend. But Jerry forgot about it. He turned a negative into a positive.”

Fabian Suarez, who graduated from Marble Falls in 2015, played on the high school baseball team with Watson’s sons, Jay and J.T., in 2012 and 2013 when the Mustangs advanced to the playoffs.

“Jerry was like the cool uncle who brought great energy and was always smiling and cracking jokes,” he said. “He really enjoyed Jay, J.T., and every person on that team. You could say a ton of great things about him.”

During the Mustangs’ 2020 football season, Suarez and his parents, Samantha and Blas Suarez, often sat with Watson at games when he wasn’t working the concession stand as the cheerleader representative.

Suarez recalled the last time the two saw each other, on Dec. 18 at the ticket booth at Heroes Stadium in San Antonio for the Mustangs’ playoff game against Sharyland Pioneer.

“He loved it,” Suarez said of Watson’s excitement for the football team. “He ate it up like he did when we were in the baseball playoffs.

“He was equally excited about this group of kids,” the former Mustang added. “He was all about the sports and city.”

When Watson’s sons graduated from high school, his involvement in athletics didn’t stop. He became daughter Jenna’s biggest cheerleader and even let everyone know with a shirt he often wore reading “No. 1 Cheer Dad.”

Marble Falls cheerleader representative Jerry Watson
Marble Falls High School Athletic Booster Club cheer representative Jerry Watson with Sienna Fuentes (left), daughter Jenna Watson, Ali Kirby, and Halee Kirby. Courtesy photo

“Jerry was one of the most dominant vocal cheer dads who was proud and vocal,” cheer coach Berkman said. “He loved that title and loved that role and loved he could pour so much into his daughter. He was a competitive spirit. He said, ‘We should be watching film on the other teams to get ready for cheer competitions. I’d be happy to host a film session.’ He was 100 percent invested.”  

Longtime friend and fellow volunteer LeeAnn Harkins and her husband, Dusty, served with Watson on several boards over the years. 

He was always the one who asked if there was more he could do to ease the burden of the other volunteers, Harkins said. 

“Jerry would always say, ‘We do it for the kids,’” she said. “His humor was always timely. He made the mundane chores like equipment fitting and ballfield dragging fun. Everyone loved coach Jerry.”

Online condolences to the Watson family may be made through Clements-Wilcox Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider a donation to the Marble Falls Booster Club, P.O. Box 1921, Marble Falls, TX 78654.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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