When Richmond resident Matt LemMon took over the Tam High football team earlier this year, he knew he wanted to instill two major things in his players: an extremely high level of conditioning, and a desire to give back to their community.

On the eve of the Red-Tailed Hawks’ 2017 season – they play at Piner High on Saturday at 2pm – LemMom has accomplished both of those goals. He instituted a “Hell Week” of fitness training that one player called “the hardest week of my life,” according to the Marin IJ, and his players did yeoman’s work last month to help the City of Mill Valley widen one of its acclaimed Steps, Lanes & Paths

The latter project came after some after some nimble collaboration. LemMon reached out to Ronnie Moore, the City’s Volunteer Coordinator, who then connected with Public Works Supervisor Denise Andrews, who remembered that Parks & Recreation Commissioner Betsy Bikle had asked that SLP37, a hilly path that connects Monte Vista and Marion avenues through the dense woods along Earnscliffe Canyon Park in Cascade Canyon, get some attention.

Enter LemMom and 25 of his players, who helped widen the path considerably, Andrews says.

“We’re extremely grateful that Matt reached out to us and that his players could help us make this path wider, allowing for safer passage for its users,” she says. 

LemMon, who replaced Jon Black, the Red-tailed Hawks’ coach since 2011, grew up in the East Bay and was a standout player at St. Mary’s High in Albany. For the past four seasons, he was an assistant football coach at Hercules High and a teacher at De Anza High in El Sobrante. 

LemMom says that his grandmother attended Tam High in the 1940s, and that the inspiration for the service project came from his grandparents and father. “They always told me that it’s not just what you do in school and on the field but it’s the extra things you can do for people,” he says. “I want the kids to understand that.” 

LemMom says he hopes the SLP37 project is the first of more he’ll have his players do more after the coming grind of the Marin County Athletic League season and, hopefully, a playoff run. He

“The kids that missed this project already asked if they could do something else,” LemMon says. “They’re excited to do more.”