High School Football

Longtime metro-east coach remembered for love of family and football

Jerry Germain, who coached football for more than 20 years in the metro-east, died suddenly on Monday, May 29. He is show here with his granddaughter Calli Germain, a former two-sport athlete at Columbia.
Jerry Germain, who coached football for more than 20 years in the metro-east, died suddenly on Monday, May 29. He is show here with his granddaughter Calli Germain, a former two-sport athlete at Columbia. Courtesy photo

Jerry Germain, a longtime area coach and patriarch of a sports-loving family, died Monday.

Germain had a record of 141-74-1 over 22 seasons as the head football coach at Columbia, Chester, Dupo and Waterloo. Nine of those teams qualified for the IHSA playoffs, though he had already coached nine seasons before Illinois had a postseason tournament for football.

“When Jerry first came here there was quite a rival between Dupo and Columbia football,” said current Columbia Athletic Director Joe Iorio, who worked six seasons as an assistant under Germain before eventually replacing him as head coach. “He’s in both schools’ halls of fame. Two communities are going to truly miss that man.”

Germain had been battling cancer for seven years, but died from head injuries sustained in a fall at his daughter’s home, his son Scott Germain said. Jerry Germain was 76 years old.

Germain began his career in Chester, where he taught history, physical education, health and driver’s ed. He retired from teaching in 1979 so he and his wife, Linda, could open an amusement company, Jerry Germain Rides.

But he continued coaching into the 1990s. His best team arguably was his 1992 Columbia Eagles team, which went undefeated until losing to Moweaqua Central A&M in the Class 2A state semifinal.

Sure, he'd get on you as a coach, but before practice broke or you got out of his eye sight, he'd grab you behind the neck and tell you how much he loved you.

Scott Germain

Scott Germain was a fixture on the sidelines of his dad’s football teams, both at practice and at games. The love of football was passed on from father to son — Scot currently the defensive coordinator at Columbia.

“We’re getting so many people calling and texting about what a father figure he was,” he said. “But they would get him for two hours of practice a day during the football season. I was able to live that 24-7. It was non-stop and I just loved it.”

In an interview with the Belleville News-Democrat in 2015, Jerry Germain recalled the 1979 regular-season finale, which his Dupo Tigers lost 8-7 to Assumption in East St. Louis. Both teams were 8-0 heading into the game and at that time, only conference champions made the playoffs.

His son was devastated by the loss, an emotion he shared as Scott grew into his own career as a coach.

“When the game was over with he just fell on his face and started crying,” Jerry Germain recalled. “I think I even cried last year when Columbia lost to Althoff in the first round because I know how hard those guys worked.”

Germain grew up in South St. Louis and graduated with the McKinley High School Class of 1960. He earned his degree from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State) in Kirksville, where he was teammates on the football team with eventual heavyweight boxing champion Ken Norton.

Germain also had two daughters — Lori Gould, of Waterloo, and the late Julie Germain. His wife, Linda Germain, died in July 2016.

Sure, he'd get on you as a coach, but before practice broke or you got out of his eye sight, he'd grab you behind the neck and tell you how much he loved you.

Scott Germain

According to his obituary, his proudest achievement was his grandchildren, both athletes at Columbia. Calli Germain played on the volleyball and girls basketball teams and recently earned her degree in nursing from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Jared Germain will be a senior wide receiver for the Eagles in the fall.

“There were not too many games that he missed. He was a sports guy, but he loved taking care of people,” Scott Germain said. “Sure, he’d get on you as a coach, but before practice broke or you got out of his eye sight, he’d grab you behind the neck and tell you how much he loved you. That’s the kind of a guy he was. I always remember that and try to be that way as well.”

Germain’s ashes will be buried during a private service for immediate family at St. Trinity Cemetery. A celebration of life yet to be scheduled will be open to all family and friends.

  Comments