Cheney’s all-league linebacker Romanus Chodorowski has a dream. He hopes to one day make it to the NFL so he can take care of his mother, Kathy.
Kathy has raised 10 children while working six days a week as waitress at the Mainline Cafe in Airway Heights and the Red Rooster in Reardan. She’s rarely missed a day of work since she was 18.
“He said ‘When I make it to NFL, Mom, I’ll buy you a big house.’ I don’t want a big house, I just want him to be happy,” said Kathy.
“She’s the best thing in my life right now. She’s done so much for me,” said Romanus, 17. “Somebody needs to start taking care of her.”
Kathy came to the United States from Ireland in 1963 when she was 18. Planning on staying with her aunt in Queens, N.Y., while she went to school, Kathy’s plans changed when her aunt died.
With $10 and an address of a family friend in her pocket, Kathy took a cab into Manhattan. The fare cost exactly $10.
“I lived on faith,” she said.
Her friends still lived there and she stayed with them until she found a job as a live-in housekeeper.
Kathy married and moved to Airway Heights. She has worked hard raising her family since a divorce.
Three of the oldest children - Michelle Crowley, Doriese Anderson and Mario, who was an all-league athlete at Cheney - are raising their own families now. All have remained in the area.
Anthony and Valerain have both graduated from Cheney. Ben plays linebacker for Cheney’s JV team. Veronica and the youngest, Roland, 14, fill out the house.
“Lot of hand-me-downs, lot of fights between the kids,” said Romanus on growing up in such a crowded house. “Everybody knows us as such a big family, so nobody wants to mess with (us).”
A close family that’s been brought closer by tragedy. Kathy’s eldest daughter, Shelia Brown, was murdered three years ago by an ex-boyfriend who took his life at the same time. Shelia’s daughter, Nicole, barely escaped with her life.
Shelia’s urn sits in the Chodorowski living room, decorated with many ornaments from Nicole’s visits. Kathy plans on having the urn buried with her someday.
“We always used to go to friends’ houses to get away as much as we could because it was so crowded,” said Romanus. “Now we’re always together. We always do stuff together, stay home a lot just to be with one another.”
At 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, Romanus is one of the most recruited players in the area, drawing interest from Washington, Washington State, Oregon and Nebraska, among others. He has collected two shoeboxes full of letters from schools wanting him to play for them.
“I don’t really think about it,” he said. “It’s cool, though.”
Romanus is favoring WSU. The proximity to home was one of the factors that is swaying him toward Pullman.
“I have to be real dedicated when I get there,” he said. “Everybody says WSU is a big party school, but I just have to learn to say no. You don’t have to party all the time, you have to hit the books.”
A three-year letter-winner for the Blackhawks, Romanus has been entrenched in the starting lineup since he was a sophomore. Last season he was named to the All-Frontier League at linebacker and tight end. At the start of this season he was projected to be all-state.
A good student with a 3.2 GPA, Romanus hopes to major in electrical engineering at WSU.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: GAMES OF THE WEEK The leagues playing double round-robins start their second time through this week. East Valley is trying to stay alive in the Frontier League when Cheney visits for a 7 p.m. game Friday. At the same time, Freeman’s last chance to tie for the Northeast A title comes at third-ranked Colfax. And Columbia can sew up the Northeast B-8 title with a win at Inchelium. Wilbur-Creston or Davenport can claim the inside track for a Bi-County playoff spot when they meet at Davenport on Friday at 7. League leader Reardan clinches a spot with a win at Ritzville. Rosalia goes to Colton with the winner coming away with the inside track in the Southeast B-8. Central Valley can clinch a GSL playoff spot with a win at University.