UNION MILLS — "You are going to eat, aren't you?"
Anybody familiar with me or my drooping waist line knows those words are music to my ears, a question that's almost always answered in the affirmative.
I was headed out to South Central on Thursday to talk to coach Buzz Schoff about Friday's West Central game and to talk to a player for a profile story. When he told me to bring my appetite because there would be Italian beef at 5:30, I exceeded the speed limits between 421 and the high school to get there.
As we stood in the doorway talking for a minute, Kasey Guibert, the cook behind the delicious spread, came in, so I figured the least I could do was give her a little bump in the media. Not only was she feeding me this night, she's been feeding the Satellites football team for six years now.
"I come with bronchitis, I come with a horrible back ache, I've been here through the whole thing," Guibert said. "If I missed a week, three or four weeks ahead of time, I'd say, 'Hey, I need someone to take this week.'"
Several years ago, prior to Schoff's arrival at SC, Sherry Gilmore, who had a son on the football team, was hosting Thursday dinners at her house where, while it was still warm enough, kids would swim in their pool. Gilmore's son was a senior when Guibert's oldest son, Nathaniel Schweder, now 20, was a freshman, and the discussion was raised as to whom would take it over the following season.
"The moms at that point had gotten together, some would bring spaghetti noodles, some would bring the salad," Guibert said. "My husband, (Brian), said, 'Absolutely not, the boys are not going to go without having a meal.' I said, 'OK, I'll do it.' I didn't realize six years later, I'd still be doing it."
Guibert began cooking for the team during Nathaniel's sophomore year. Her other son, Brandon Schweder, is currently a sophomore, but she also made meals for the varsity the year he was in eighth grade.
"When I was first taking over, I think it was kind of an expectation," Guibert said. "Whomever it was at the time said, 'You're not getting out. They have me for two more years, then they better be figuring it out.'"
Each week during the season, Guibert buys, cooks and delivers the food to the high school cafeteria after Thursday practice. She prepares for about 50, including players, managers, coaches and other moms who come to help out.
"To be honest, whenever someone's sick, the only thing I can ever think of is to take them some food, something that's a comfort," Guibert said. "I try to buy it on Wednesday, sometimes Thursday, and I always make it Thursday during the day. I always do the main dish, two or three things, then usually a lot of parents bring in a dessert or side dish. This year's group of moms want to help out more than any in past years."
Thursday's fare featured the aforementioned Italian Beef with Julienne potatoes, corn and a green bean casserole, washed down with pink lemonade. The lightest, airiest donut I've had in a long time provided the exclamation point.
"There's a reason why Thursday is my cheat day," said Schoff, who is dieting. "I know Kasey's cooking. (My weight loss) isn't Kasey's fault."
The varying menu has also featured home-made mostaccioli, beef and noodles, spaghetti and a taco bar. A few of her recipes come with special secret ingredients that she won't reveal.
"I love to cook, I don't like to clean up," said Guibert, who attends all the football games. "I'd love to take all these boys home with me to clean up. I enjoy seeing the kids. I don't have to tell them to go up for seconds. They do that on their own. The parents will say they know they're eating well here because they are so picky about their food. They don't want to eat, they're full."
Guibert's culinary offerings were also lauded in the school yearbook once when a freshman recognized her team meals as a memorable part of the school year.
"Certainly as much time and effort I put in going to the grocery store," she said, "bringing it home, cooking it up, cleaning it up, to hear someone say that, it's really special."