It’s game day for Inglewood High School football team and team mom Bridgette Bender is ready for the occasion.
Wearing a forest green Inglewood T-shirt, and nail and toe polish to match the school colors, Bender had on her game face and lipstick to match.
A single parent, Bender decided to move and transfer her son Charles Deloach III from Narbonne to Inglewood because of his declining grades and a chance to play for head coach Mil’Von James.
“I heard a lot of good things about coach James and the program and it turned out to be the. Best decision that I could have made for my son. His grades improved and they mentored him as a player and person and I could not be more thankful for them,” Bender told Inglewood Today.
Later that evening Inglewood lost 56-30 to Bishop Alemany in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 semifinals ending an outstanding season and finishing 11-1.
Bender is responsible for helping prepare meals for the players and collectively with other parents made sure that the students were able to get to and from school safely, but admits the challenges of raising a son in today’s social media environment.
“It was hard because we have so much social media and kids have so many things going and things are so different when I was growing up, it was great that we had coaches like Inglewood has to step up and who understood the many struggles that many of these kids may be going through,” she added. “Coach James has taught him how to be a man something that I could not do. He became a leader here at Inglewood because they taught him that.”
Deloach, 5’11, 240 played defensive line and center and earned All Ocean League honors as a junior and became a team captain as a senior and is planning on attending college to pursue football and education when he graduates in 2022.
He will be honor at the annual Unsung Heroes Leadership Awards black tie gala on April 3, 2022.
His position coach Rayvione Mouton also has been a significant mentor in his life.
Bender says her day begins at 5:45 a.m. and she awakes her son at about 6:50 a.m. and makes breakfast for Deloach and frequently teammates who may spend the night over. Charles greets her with “I love you mom” each morning.
She will drop Deloach off at schools and return after school at about 2p.m. to bring him water or ice as he prepares for practice.
“All of these kids are my babies. If they need a ride home or to practice or to the game, I am there for them. I drive to Chino to pick up helmets for the team or anything they might need.”
She added, “Coach James does a lot to help these kids, so I try to help him and the other coaches out as much as possible. They have their families of their own, but they sacrifice everything for these kids.”
Bender shuffles all of these activities into her day that includes her job as a project administrator for a construction company and her pending business as transportation driver for the elderly.
During Thanksgiving, Bender will prepare a small meal for herself and son, and likely will spend the holiday with her sister.
Like many families it will be a day of reflection and thanks for a journey in life that is not promised and does not provide any guarantees, but it is always rewarding.