The fever blister is hard to detect on Jolene Larecy’s upper lip, but it’s there.

The fever blister is hard to detect on Jolene Larecy’s upper lip, but it’s there.

She said she got it from the back-and-forth pace of last Sunday’s NFC championship game in New Orleans, pitting the host Saints against the Minnesota Vikings.

Not in cold weather, because it was in a dome. Just an intense tilt for a trip to the Super Bowl, a game the Saints had never made in their history.

“I stood the whole game,” said Larecy, 58, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio in Ardmore. “I yelled from start to finish.”

In the end, everything tilted the Saints’ way. Former Oklahoma kicker Garrett Hartley kicked a 40-yard field goal in overtime to give the Saints a 31-28 victory.

“I never cried, but I got very teary,” Larecy said. “I said, ‘Here’s the shot. We’re going to the Super Bowl.’”

More importantly for Larecy, her nephew is going — back.

Now they can celebrate

Larecy is the proud aunt of Jeremy Shockey, the Saints’ tight end and former Ada and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M standout. It’s the second time the 6-foot-5, 251-pounder has been on a Super Bowl team, but he’s never played in the Big Game.

Visit Larecy’s studio and it’s no secret who her favorite player is. The message “SUPER BOWL BOUND #88” is written on a window facing the street, and inside are some framed articles either about or including Shockey that Larecy has saved for his home when he retires from the NFL. The place is fit for a private Mardi Gras party, with gold, purple and green wrapped around a register table, gold and black balloons near the window and Mardi Gras-style beads adorning the face mirrors. Also, two plainly written signs hang inside: “Aunt it Great!” and “We Shockey-d de World!”

She has a customer, Tatum Lee, and Lee’s friend to thank for the decoration, which was a surprise for her when she came back from her trip to New Orleans.

If anyone in the Larecy-Shockey clan is more pumped up for the game, it may be Shockey himself. He suffered a season-ending ankle injury late in the 2007 season while playing for the New York Giants. He witnessed the Giants thwart the New England Patriots’ pursuit of perfection with a 17-14 victory in a skybox and still got his championship ring.

But the moment wasn’t entirely a joyous one. Larecy said she wasn’t aware before the game that Shockey was out.

“I had a sense of sadness for him,” Larecy said. “But I always told him and (his brother) James, ‘We all experience a certain amount of adversity.’”

As kids, the sons of Lucinda Shockey were asked how would they build character if they didn’t go through adversity.

“Jeremy’s got a lot of character,” Larecy said. “His brother does, too.”

Respect — and swagger
Part of Jeremy Shockey’s character is the respect his aunt helped instill in him and his brother. Although she lived in Jasper, Texas, for many years until moving to Ardmore in 2001, she’d sometimes drive Jeremy and his junior-high teammates to school when she visited Ada.

The ride was never without a stop at a doughnut shop or without a simple bit of advice she gave Jeremy, always the last to leave her vehicle: “Be respectful of your teachers today.”

Shockey’s known for his outspokenness and his intensity on the field, but it’s the respect he shows on and off the gridiron that’s a sign of maturity in his aunt’s eyes.

“He’s shown more of his respect for fellow University of Miami alums on other teams since his first season,” she said. “The first year, he approached everybody as the enemy. But now, after a play, he might say to an old teammate, ‘Oh, you got me right there,’ or ‘You thought you had me that time, didn’t you?’”

Before last Sunday’s game, Shockey had breakfast with aunt and uncle when a fan approached him and asked for his autograph. “I’ll sign it as soon as I’m done eating,” Larecy recalls nephew saying.

He didn’t put the fan off. As soon as he finished, Larecy added, he asked, “Where did that fan go?”

To the casual fan, Shockey plays the game with a “swagger,” a term Larecy said she never heard anyone use until it floated around at a University of Miami game when Shockey was playing there — though she knew what it meant.

“He has no problem telling you what he thinks,” she said, “but he has a respectful side.”

Making it this far, “full-throttle”
Larecy was there to see Shockey play in Miami’s thumping of Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl. Now, she, her husband, and Lucinda and James Shockey will be in Miami next Sunday to see Jeremy finally take a Super Bowl field. The Larecys plan to leave Friday.

She expects a feeling she had eight years ago in Pasadena, Calif., while watching Jeremy play.

“A sense of thankfulness that he’s been able to fulfill this God-given talent,” she said. “A lot of guys have a bad injury in their first year and can’t come back. Jeremy has had those injuries after his first year because he goes full-throttle.”

Jeremy has dealt with more pain as the Big Game approaches. Soreness in his right knee has limited his practice and playing time during the playoffs. (Saints coach Sean Payton described the injury as “more of a bruise.”)

The driven, tattoo-happy big man from Ada who current Ardmore coach Larry McBroom saw play as a junior-high kid is determined to win a ring he actually played in the Super Bowl for. It’s what Larecy dreamed of him doing when he was a kid, having him and his brother pose for a photo with a bag of Doritos Cool Ranch during a ski trip and pretending to be paid endorsers for the snack.

“I told him — and this was back when Troy Aikman was the man — ‘Jeremy, Troy Aikman used to live in Henryetta, and Ada is just as very good a place to be from,’” she said.

Now, Ardmore is a good place for someone with a Super Bowl connection.

I.C. Murrell


More about Jolene Larecy

¶ Grew up in Coalgate with older sister Connie and younger sister Lucinda; hers and Connie’s maiden name is Ireland (Lucinda’s is Kimberling)

¶ Married to Bill Larecy for 38 years with no children; both were nurses

¶ Lived in Ada and Jasper, Texas, during married life before moving to Ardmore in April 2001, when she bought Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio; Lucinda Shockey, who now lives in Arlington, helped run the studio while the Larecys were moving to Ardmore

¶ Sister Connie, who also had no children, lives in Ardmore