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Prep football: The Lee family, Picking Sides

A Valencia coach is rooting for Hart football and her son

Posted: October 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hart High offensive lineman Austin Lee is the son of Valencia softball head coach Donna Lee. Austin will be a key player in tonight's Hart-Valencia football game and his mom will be cheering him from the Hart section.

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When Austin Lee was a freshman football player for Hart High, his mother was up in the stands in the Hart section.

People were puzzled.

The thought was, ‘What is Valencia’s varsity softball coach doing on this side?”

Tonight, at Valencia High — the school where Donna Lee has taught and coached the Vikings for 14 seasons, winning 10 Foothill League titles and two CIF championships (including one against Hart) — she will be in the Hart section again, rooting on her son Austin.

“Everybody’s asking, ‘What side are you going to sit on Donna?’ I’m like, ‘What do you guys think? Hello?’” Donna says. “(Valencia athletic director) Brian Stiman’s like, ‘You’re a faculty member at Hart this week. You have to go park at the Ice Station (across the street). We’re not going to allow you to park here.’ I try to lay low the week we play Valencia. I try not to say much. May the best team win.”

Is it weird for Austin?

A little bit.

The three-year varsity offensive lineman says its weird for his mom working around the opponent every day.

And he even takes a little grief.

“The coaches have given me grief about the Valencia game,” he says. “They ask me if I really am rooting for Hart and not Valencia. During the season, the coaches always ask me if my mom has any new information about Valencia’s plays.”

She could provide some football insight, though.

At one of her previous stops, she was a freshman football coach at Taft High.

And after all, she’s been ultra-successful as one of the nation’s premier softball coaches so she can motivate.

Austin says he’s learned a lot from her and that her success puts welcomed pressure on him to excel in everything he does.

And excel, he has.

Austin was a second-team All-Santa Clarita Valley and All-Foothill League selection last year as a junior.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 255-pound offensive tackle and his fellow linemen are a major reason why Hart came into the season so highly regarded and another reason why the Indians have been so successful.

Hart has a sophomore quarterback in Brady White and his comfort level and fast development have only been helped by the steady play of an experienced offensive line.

On top of that, Hart’s running game has been stellar as well this season.

All told, the Indians are averaging 42.9 points per game.

“He’s been a rock for us for the last three seasons, and he started as a sophomore for us and has done really well throughout his career at Hart,” says Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “One of our key factors. Whenever we’re successful he usually has a pretty good game.”

Austin has visions of playing college football and Donna says there have been schools contacting him to play for them.

But that’s in the future and he has a pretty big game tonight against Valencia — which has not only been Hart’s biggest rival the last decade but is also the only other undefeated team in the Foothill League.

Mom will once again be on the Hart side for the game.

And plan on seeing it another three years because she has another son playing for Hart.

Mason is an offensive lineman on the Indians freshman football team.

“I’m their No. 1 fan out there,” Donna says. “I have to be the loudest fan. I’m just like I am coaching. I’m a loud coach when I coach, and I’m a loud fan also. And I love my kids to death and I will do anything to make sure they’re successful.”

And Austin shares the same support for his mom.

“I know the Hart softball players will hate me for this, but I definitely root for Valencia,” he says. “I mean, I’ve been around the softball team since I was a baby.”

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