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Football: Brothers bred for football careers

As Jason Grooms intercepted a pass and sprinted toward the end zone, the Adena High School football field looked more like a scene from his family’s back yard.

Grooms’ younger brother Ryan sprinted ahead of him, attempting to block for his older sibling. As Jason started to be tackled, he pitched the ball to Ryan, who was seeing his first varsity action as a sophomore.

From that point on, it seemed destined the brothers would always work in football.

Now, Jason is Ohio’s director of football operations, where he oversees the day-to-day operations of the football team.

A few hours west, Ryan works as the equipment manager at Notre Dame. The brothers grew up in Frankfort, Ohio, about an hour from Athens, and both served as student managers for the Bobcats.

“You don’t appreciate it until it’s gone,” Jason said. “We used to fight like cats and dogs, but we shared a lot of great experiences together when we were here.”

Growing up around athletics inspired the Groomses to pursue careers in sports. Their father, Jake, served a number of positions at Adena High School and in the school district, from football coach to principal to superintendent of the district.

As adolescents, both Groomses would head to the high school while their father worked. The pair tossed a football during practice or played basketball in the gym to pass the time.

“We were always around it,” Jason said. “We were always in the locker rooms, at practices; we were a part of all that.”

Jason and Ryan were born only two years apart, so Ryan always attempted to tag along with his older brother and his friends as they played pick-up games around the Frankfort neighborhoods.

“Sports is something we’ve basically been doing since we could walk,” Ryan said.  “I mean, shoot, we basically go to football practice for a living and get paid to do it. It’s something that we’ve been able to do our whole lives.”

Jason arrived at Ohio first and instantly became involved with the football team as a manager. He initially wanted to be more involved with the business side of sports but was drawn to coaching.

Ryan, on the other hand, came as a communications major and didn’t know what he wanted to do. Soon, he became attracted to Jason’s position and decided to also join the Bobcats’ student coaching staff.

Both roomed together while helping out with the team. Like any pair of young brothers, Jason and Ryan badgered each other but realized years later just how special it was. Looking back, both said they wish they could have the opportunity again and hope to work for the same team.

After college, each brother began a journey through various programs across the country. Jason moved with former Ohio coach Jim Grobe to Wake Forest before returning to Athens, while Ryan attended graduate school at Marshall before he moved on to the Air Force, Minnesota and finally Notre Dame.

Ryan’s move to Notre Dame has allowed the brothers, who used to spend so much time together, the chance to see each other more often. It also means their parents can watch games more easily.

“I think they might enjoy our job more than we do,” Ryan said.

The brothers still talk every day, whether about football or life. They see each other often and used to ride motorcycles together before having kids.

After establishing their careers in football, both are still chasing the dream of one day working with each other.

“It’d be cool if we did ever play each other in a game,” Jason said. “But really, we’d much rather work together on the same team one day than have that happen.”


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