Skyline High School cheer coach dies

March 29, 2011

By Laura Geggel

Tamara “Tammy” Fox, the assistant cheer coach at Skyline High School, died March 20, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Fox, a 31-year-old Issaquah resident, was found dead in her home. Authorities are still working on a toxicology report to determine the cause of death, according to the medical examiner’s office.

A 1998 graduate of Liberty High School, Fox danced on the drill team her freshman year and cheered for three years as a member of Liberty’s cheerleading squad. Her classmates awarded her the honor of having the most school spirit in her senior year and she was a member of Signet, Liberty’s senior service club.

Tammy Fox

Liberty principal’s secretary Kathy Schroeder knew Fox from the cheer squad and from her work as an office teacher’s assistant.

“She was a great gal,” Schroeder said. “I’m just heartbroken.”

She remembered teasing Fox about the crush she had on former Seattle Mariners’ star Alex Rodriguez during their hours together in the main office.

“I remember her as our TA and we would sit and talk about her love for Alex Rodriguez,” Schroeder said. “She was just helpful and sweet and hardworking and a great cheerleader.”

After graduating from Liberty, Fox earned a degree in communication from the University of Washington and studied at Seattle University for her law degree.

She had passed the Washington bar, started her own law practice and recently gained her first client, a family member said.

In addition to managing her practice, Fox started working at Skyline this fall.

“She quickly became one of my closet friends,” Head Cheerleading Coach Stephania Lemeshko said.

The two spent hours coaching their 44 cheerleading students, and “besides that I spent countless hours on the phone with her every night,” talking about cheer and life, Lemeshko said.

In August, Fox sat down Lemeshko and the other assistant cheer coach, Blake Jahnke, and orchestrated the creation of 44 scrapbook journals for each of their cheerleaders. Coaches wrote a personal note in every journal, welcoming their students to a new year of cheer.

“It was really nice,” Skyline junior Kaitlyn Oss said. “It was so personal. Not a lot of coaches take the time to do that, but she wanted to get to know each of us individually.”

Skyline junior Katherine Lammers said she hadn’t used her journal yet, but said she would start writing in it as a memorial to Fox.

“She would always do the sweetest things for us and at any point make us smile,” Lammers said.

Lemeshko said the journals were an example of how Fox approached life.

“She was always going above and beyond,” Lemeshko said. “With Tammy, nothing was a little project.”

Fox brightened the team, bringing treats for her students and joking about her love for shoes with her students, Lammers said. She helped one student land a Washington State Cheer Coaches Association scholarship for college by writing her a letter of recommendation, Lemeshko said.

In January, both the Skyline Silver and Green teams won awards at the State Cheerleading Championships, a feat that had never before happened. Lemeshko credits her students for their hard work, and said the team couldn’t have done it without the help of assistant coaches Jahnke and Fox.

“We were truly lucky to be on the receiving end of her generous spirit and enthusiasm for sharing what enjoyment and leadership qualities cheerleading could bring for the student-athletes involved in the program,” Skyline Principal Lisa Hechtman wrote in an email to parents March 21.

Skyline observed a moment of silence March 21 in honor of Fox. The high school also provided counseling services to those struggling with the news of her death.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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