By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — First-graders held up homemade signs to greet NFL football player Jake Gervase to a homecoming celebration Feb. 28 at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School. The 26-year-old is a graduate of St. Paul the Apostle and Assumption High School (2014) in Davenport. He has played for the LA Rams.
Brooke DiIulio, who taught Gervase at St. Paul, introduced him to the student body. “I have great memories here,” Gervase said. He joked that Mrs. (Julie) Delaney, the principal, “reminded me that I talked too much.”
Gervase met his wife Hailey (Schneden) at St. Paul and remains close to four other friends from the elementary school. At Assumption, he practiced his faith, was involved in sports, attended all his classes and met great friends, he said.
He was a walk-on athlete at the University of Iowa, which meant he did not have a scholarship to pay for his education, housing or food. He participated on the team, attending practices and activities. Eventually, he earned a scholarship.
At Iowa, he played safety and then on the kicking team. Although he played all four years, Gervase told the students he was benched for “making a mistake or two. It was a tough time (to sit on the bench).” He said he pushed through and worked hard to regain his position.
Gervase was a free agent for the NFL draft of 2019. He attended the camp with a 90-man roster, which was cut to 53 for the season. He made the cut. He played safety with the LA Rams the first two years, then linebacker. After sustaining an injury, he was sent home. He said he has been cut from the Rams four times so far.
When he was on the roster, Gervase did not know whether he would play. The uncertainty caused him to talk with his dad and his wife about leaving football. “I was on a roller coaster of emotions. I wasn’t sure it was worth it. But I stuck it out.”
During this past 2021-22 football season, the Rams made it to the playoffs and then to the Super Bowl. “It was awesome.” The Rams were losing at half time but gained momentum in the second half and won the championship.
“My advice to you is to work hard and treat others well. Work hard in the classroom, on the team and with others. Have a relationship with God,” advised Gervase, who is recovering from an injury and will see what the future holds.
During a question and answer session, someone asked Gervase about his favorite book. “The Harry Potter series.” The students cheered. He recently re-read the series and said the books are as good as the movie versions. Responding to other questions:
• He trains five days a week, lifting, running and doing other activities. “It’s a full-time job.”
• His favorite team growing up was the Chicago Bears. The students cheered in response.
• If he were not with the Rams, he would like to play for a team closer to his family in the Midwest.
• Post-football, he and his brother want to start a tiny home business in which they build tiny homes for rent. “I want to get into the real estate field.”
• He does not play himself in the Madden NFL football video games. “I don’t play video games.” He advised the students to play video games in moderation, to get outside and to read books.
Following his talk, he signed autographs for students.