- C Johnston
Cheryl DeMarco: Raising Daughters
Cheryl DeMarco is known for many things. She’s a woman of strong faith. She’s the devoted wife of Geneva College Head Football Coach Geno DeMarco. She’s the loving daughter caring for her mother. She’s a valued friend and colleague to many people she’s known throughout the years.
But to those who know her best, Cheryl is a Girl Mom, through and through. Raising her four daughters well has been a primary mission in her life.
Cheryl’s husband, Coach Geno, spends his days being devoted to his football players. He’s a “man’s man” who mentors about 120 young men every year. He recruits his players and trains them in gridiron skills. He’s tough and knows how to reach them. Most importantly, he helps guide his players through life’s journey from a Christian perspective.
Cheryl notes that Geno thought he would have sons, but God blessed him with daughters.
He says, “Cheryl reminds me that the world is not a football field. And so, when I come home, I enter a completely different world and become the Girl Dad.”
Cheryl laughs at some of the memories of her husband. “When the girls were little and we needed to go somewhere, like church, Geno would be right there helping to get them ready. I can still see him propping up one of the girls on the counter and painting her fingernails because she asked him to. And I can see him acting like the tough dad, grilling a boy who came to the door for one of his girls.”
The DeMarcos are intentional about being a united front and supporting one another through parenting their daughters over the years. Geno points out that Cheryl, as a woman, is a tremendous role model, teaching her daughters many lessons.
As a Christian who studies and follows the Bible, Cheryl teaches by example. Her oldest daughter, Alexa, says, “Our mother showed us, through joys and trials, what it means to be a biblical woman.” The lessons were taught as they walked and talked, during tea parties and picnics.
Cheryl encouraged her daughters, throughout their childhood, to be in places that would cultivate their faith and godly interactions. She taught them that circumstances change, but God never does. Today, her daughters all see their relationship with the Lord as their top priority.
And that’s a gift to be passed down, her eldest daughter Alexa affirms. At aged 31, she now has three children of her own and is training them in the same God-honoring way her Mom trained her. The little ones tell Cheryl, their grandmother, stories they learn from their Jesus Storybook Bible series, other books and podcasts.
As a mother, Cheryl says it’s a joy beyond compare to see her daughter sharing God’s love with her own children.
BEING SENSITIVE TO OTHERS
Being sensitive and caring for others are second nature to Cheryl.
Her third daughter, 25-year-old Grace, says, “Mom is selfless to the core. I’ve seen her give up a lot of things for our family. She never puts her needs ahead of ours. She always thinks of others first.”
Hubby Geno seconds that. “She was the accelerant, fueling the flame to help me be the person I was supposed to be.” He explains, “I was successful and doing well in pharmaceutical sales. But I was miserable inside and felt I was called to do something else, make a different impact in the world. I’d been a volunteer football coach at Geneva, and some positions became available, including that of head coach. Even though working at the college meant a significant pay cut for our family, Cheryl knew what I needed and encouraged me. She believed I could make a difference in the lives of young men – when I didn’t even believe it myself!”
The youngest daughter, Rachel, who is now 22, says that her mother provides the perfect balance of sensitivity and strength required to be an exceptional Girl Mom. “She is good at recognizing and being aware of emotions. She provides the support we need. But she also doesn’t get caught up in the potential drama of emotions. With four girls that’s important!”
Cheryl instilled a love of learning in her children from a young age. She read to them regularly, talked to them about all things and answered their questions.
Cheryl, Geno and all four daughters are graduates of Geneva College, the Christian college in Beaver Falls, PA where Geno coaches and teaches in the Business department. They all graduated from different programs and majors, but agree that what they learned help to shape who they are.
And today, Cheryl quickly identifies good printed and audio books for herself, her daughters and even her granddaughters. She comments, “All those books fulfill my nerd side! I love to learn truth!”
CONTRIBUTING TO THE WORLD
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.” – Psalm 90:17
Cheryl is convinced that it’s God’s plan for everyone to contribute in some way to the world. At the top of her list is being a devoted parent.
She says the years she spent as a stay-at-home mom were invaluable in raising her children. She also enjoyed working out of the home, particularly in event coordination.
Today, each DeMarco daughter uses her ability to make an impact in the world. Alexa, in addition to being a mom of three, is a cardiology physician’s assistant. Jessica is a family practice physician’s assistant. Grace is a teacher. And Rachel, the youngest, is a biology major planning to working in pharmaceuticals.
Coming full circle, Cheryl now spends a lot of time with little ones. She helps to watch her three grandchildren, a calling she is thrilled to accept.
“The world has a lot of dangerous messages for young women these days,” Cheryl says. “And the biggest lie is about their self-worth.”
She points out that society often presents body image and feminine value in a way that can harm women. “It was important to let our daughters know that they are wondrously made and they don’t need to look a certain way or be a certain weight. They also don’t need to act in ways that are immoral or make them feel uncomfortable. They are beautiful and valuable as they are.”
Countering cultural messages during the girls’ formative years included limiting their social media access and cell phone use. It meant TVs and computers in family spaces, not in their bedrooms.
The DeMarcos also helped their daughters to gain confidence and feel comfortable in their own skin by supporting them in athletic endeavors. For Alexa, that was basketball, for Jess it was volleyball and softball, for Grace it was tennis and for Rachel, volleyball.
One daughter says, “I always felt loved and secure in who I was.” The others agree.
Cheryl not only focuses on being a mother and grandmother, but also a daughter. Her mother, who’s 80 years old, has dealt with a lot of health issues this past year due to an undetected blood infection. Cheryl spends time with her mother, does her laundry and grocery shopping, and helps get her where she needs to be. When a family member is in need, Cheryl demonstrates that you step in and help.
Second daughter Jessica, now 29, says that her childhood was the best any girl could hope for. “Our family always had so much love for each other. We ate dinner together every night, played together and supported each other in good times and bad.”
Today, they still enjoy the fun and craziness of family dinners together. Cheryl laughs, “If one of them can’t make it when we are together, they have serious FOMO. They want to be with everyone else!”
And the “everyone else” is twice the number they started with. The three older daughters are married and the youngest will be married soon.
Cheryl says, “The girls have brought men that we love and respect into our family. And wouldn’t you know, they are all football players!” Through the joy of raising daughters, Coach Geno ended up getting the sons he always thought he’d have.
And Geno DeMarco has one more thing to say about his wife Cheryl. “Motherhood looks very, very good on her.”
Four daughters agree.
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’” – Proverbs 31:28-29