By: Rob Langi
Gloucester Catholic is a family atmosphere. It is a place where many say once you enter, you are here for life. Those words hold true for Deb Heins ’81. Deb currently works as a receptionist for Gloucester Catholic, but her service to the school goes far beyond just the main office.
For over 41 years, she has molded young women through cheerleading, coaching at many different levels. During a stint in the 90’s and then again for the last fifteen years, Deb has taken the incredible task here at GC. However, at the end of this past football season. Deb has decided to step away from something that has been such a special time of her life. Coaching many different girls, including her two daughters Kyleigh ’10 and Arianna ‘12, Deb credits her longevity in the position to all of the kids. “It kept me young at heart,” Heins said.
This decision did not come easy for Deb. As she put it, her heart wanted her to stay but her mind told her it was time. It makes sense that it would be tough. As her daughter Kyleigh put it, she has been at this a long time.
“My mom has been coaching since she was 15 years old. To me, my mom IS cheerleading. It is a lifestyle for her. She has put in over 40 years of coaching, and she cheered since she was a little girl. It is going to be weird for me to not have my mom calling me from the Gloucester Catholic buses on Friday nights, but she has had an amazing career as a coach and I am so proud of her, and I am sure so are the hundreds of women who have had the opportunity to be coached by her.”
Very few do something from the time they were fifteen, which is the greatest example of Deb’s dedication, which she now puts into the job of making sure the GC building is as festive as it ever has been. As Arianna put it, this lesson was instilled in her and Kyleigh from a very young age.
“Ever since I was a little girl, my mom was involved with Gloucester Catholic. I remember running around the gym while she was coaching or helping out the school in some way, and watching her pour her heart and soul into this school. Her dedication to Gloucester Catholic is truly unmatched, and coaching cheerleading was only one of the many ways that she served and still serves the GC community. I can only hope that as a teacher, I can be as dedicated as she has been to this school and its mission.” “I always admired the way she cared
about ‘her girls’,” added Kyleigh. She was ultimately their coach and had a “tough-love” approach, but she truly cared about each girl like they were her own. She not only wanted to see them succeed on the mat, but also in life. She gave them advice, she drove girls home from practice when their parents or caregivers couldn’t, she has always been a role model for the many young women she had the opportunity to coach. My mom keeps in touch with many of her old cheerleaders. To this day, my mom will scroll through Facebook and will mention how proud she is of girls she have coached, some from over twenty years ago.”
With an era ending for Deb, it will not end her dedication to the place she loves so much. As stated earlier, she will still be here, with her tremendous personality greeting the faculty and students every morning. She will still make the hallways aesthetically pleasing for all those who enter the doors of GC, and knowing her, she will still be helping out Giovanna Gentile ’19, who will take over for Deb next season, in any way that she can.
Giovanna is ready to take the reigns, but couldn’t be more appreciative and grateful for all of her time with Deb.
“Deb means more than words could ever express. She helped me develop not only as a cheerleader but as a person. She made me understand the true meaning of friendship, respect, and confidence. (Deb) is beautiful inside and out and helped shape me into the person I am today. Because of her, I have learned how to be understanding and compassionate with everyone I encounter, and I now know how to be a leader amongst my peers. I will do my best to carry on the tradition that Deb has instilled in me as a coach, mentor and friend.”
Deb’s hopes for what all of her girls got out of the program and for what it continues to be in her absence personify who she is and how much she loves being a Ram.
“Always be respectful, honest, and a team player. My hope for this program is that it continues to thrive. I love what GC cheerleading is all about. They pull it all together for every game and event, and I’ll be watching from a distance. I love my GC family!”