Jeannine James has never coached, played in or officiated a high school sporting event.
But she is one of the most well-known sports figures in the Mid-Willamette Valley, or the state for that matter.
When anyone comes to a sporting event involving Gervais High School, James is the one person everyone expects to see.
Thousands of students and staff members have come and gone through Gervais since she first arrived in 1969 and started keeping the scorebook for the basketball team. In 1992, she started keeping score for volleyball, too. She retired as librarian in 2002, but is still at the school often.
“I don’t even give her a pass because everybody knows her,” Gervais athletic director Tim Bowman.
If you played at Gervais or had a parent or grandparent who played at Gervais, you know who Ms. James is.
And she definitely knows who you are.
“When you keep score at Blanchet, you look over here and see all the Gervais people,” said James, 74. “Looking at them, there’s a number of them who live in Salem so it’s not like they’re turning their nose up on us.”
When she was ill in the fall and couldn’t keep the scorebook for the volleyball team, people were constantly asking where she was.
But she is healthy now and wouldn’t miss the basketball season for anything.
“It’s amazing that she has that much energy, and the fact that she just cares about the kids,” Bowman said. “She still does all of our certificates. When our kids have gone to state, she’s made them stocking caps with their names on them. She still gives each teacher a Christmas ornament. And she still comes and stuffs our report cards.”
James is a stickler for detail and the rules. And at times, she has had she had to correct officials at basketball games.
When an official calls a foul on the number of a player who isn’t in the game, she’ll summon them to the score table so as not to make a scene.
“The last time I checked the rulebook, it said a kid who checks in gives his number and the number of the person he’s going in for,” James said.
When a player stood in front of the desk and just said ‘I’m going in,’ James said she “wouldn’t let them in unless they said at least their own number. Coaches would yell at me, several of them did, but they always came up and apologized.”
In addition to being the librarian, James also taught photography, was the yearbook advisor, and for a time, cheerleader advisor.
But track and field has always been James’ passion.
Long before anyone had thought of the Internet or athletic.net – she would keep lists of track and field bests for all the athletes in whatever conference Gervais was in and mail them to coaches each week.
Gervais has bounced around in a number of conferences over the years, from the Capital Conference to the Yawama League to the Tri-River Conference, the West Valley League and now the PacWest Conference.
That has only extended her influence in the valley.
“All the old timers remember her, and some of the parents who now have kids, they know her because she’s been around so long,” Bowman said.
James was the first inductee into Gervais’ Hall of Fame when it was created in 2006 and now she is on the committee.
This year former track and field coach Hal Mugaas was among the inductees, but he couldn’t come to the football game at which the induction ceremony was scheduled.would take place.
“She rounded it up and took it to the nursing home he’s at, and just by making a few phone calls had that place packed,” Bowman said. “It’s pretty amazing what she was able to do.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/bpoehler