The longer a person works in an athletic program at a local high school, the less of a job it is as it becomes more of a family experience.
That makes it much easier to deal with the long days and little pay as your days are filled with time spent with people you have become close to through the years.
On the flip side, when you decide to leave the school and athletic program, it makes it that much tougher.
Such is the case of now-former Foothill High trainer Elicia Jacobs.
Jacobs has been keeping together the athletes at Foothill for the last 18 years, but come this Friday, Jacobs, her husband Jason and their children will be moving to Colorado.
"I am so going to miss my sports, working with the coaches and players, the staff at Foothill -- everything," Jacobs said.
Jacobs got started in athletic training almost 20 years ago when she started as an intern at Amador Valley under the guidance of iconic Amador trainer Diana Hasenpflug.
She was also working at a local athletic clinic under Dennis Halliday, who was the Foothill part-time trainer at that point. Halliday mentioned that he wanted to step away from the high school training, with the plan to bring Jacobs on for a year with him before taking over.
She did just that and 18 years ago Jacobs became the first full-time athletic trainer at Foothill. Right out the gate, she faced football and legendary coach Matt Sweeney.
"It was overwhelming," Jacobs said. "I met coach Sweeney and it was, oh my this is so intense."
The two developed a great relationship over the years, and it was the football season that became Jacobs favorite part of the year.
"Football was always busy, and it was always a hustle, but it was my favorite," she said.
Sweeney, who stepped away from the Foothill football program in January 2018 after 31 years of coaching, knows the Falcons were blessed to have Jacobs.
"This is a big loss for the Foothill athletic department," said Sweeney, who is now fully retired. "We were so lucky to have her. She knew what she was doing, and she never sugar-coated anything to the athletes. She is a very good leader and very charismatic."
Sweeney pointed to Jacobs' abilities to get athletes recovered and back playing as one of her biggest contributions.
"I had complete confidence in her to get players back on the field," Sweeney said.
But, on the flip side, if Jacobs told the coaches the player was not ready, the decision went unchallenged.
"If she said he couldn't play, then he was not playing," Sweeney said. "Her mentality was perfect for me."
Having been around Foothill athletics for the last 30-plus years on several levels, as a reporter, a parent of athletes, or announcing football and basketball games, I can first-hand vouch for the meaning Jacobs has had to the school.
I saw Jacobs during the winter seasons in the gym during basketball games, then bolt off to the stadium for something in a soccer game, only to hustle back to the gym for more basketball. Even though the winter season was the smallest in terms of number of teams, it was the toughest.
"I never felt like I was in the right place," Jacobs said. "But there were so many amazing programs, and so many amazing players and coaches. Dusty Collins, Angelo Scavone, Randy Isaacs -- it was like family coming to work every day."
While Jacobs loved the job, there was the family drain of being at Foothill from 2:30 p.m. every day and not leaving until the completion of the last game.
"It was a great job when (her children) were babies as I was home during the days and when my husband got home, we would tag off," Jacobs said with a laugh. "Once they started going to school, I would drop them off at school and then not get home until they were going to bed."
Now as the family heads to Colorado where she has a job overseeing athletic trainers for four schools, there will be way less late nights and more family time.
"It will be great," said Jacobs, then laughing again added, "At least we shall see."
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his Pleasanton Preps column, email [email protected]