A cheerleader in high school, Julie Marchese shifted gears after college and threw herself into pretty much the opposite of cheerleading.
She went into the Army.
Marchese traveled the world, from Germany to South Korea, as a military nurse.
Operating in that male-dominated arena was probably the best preparation she could've gotten for her next job: mom. Check that: mom of football players.
Marchese is the only female in her house. She and husband John are parents to four boys, Joe, Jim and identical twins Henry and Michael.
And all of the boys, including husband John, are all about the most male-oriented sport there is: football.
In other words, the testosterone levels at the Marchese home are off the charts.
"It's a tough job for my Mom," Michael Marchese said of the fact that Julie is outnumbered five to one in a 24/7 football household. "But she loves it. I think."
"The Army really helped prepare her for being a Mom to all boys who play football," Henry Marchese added with a laugh.
Michael and Henry, star wide receivers at Stevenson who each caught a touchdown pass in last week's rivalry win over Libertyville, are the youngest of the Marchese brothers, but they are certainly no different than their older brothers, their dad, or even their cousins and uncle. Like the rest of the boys in the family, Michael and Henry not only excel at high school football, they are also on a path to join the rest as college football players.
The tradition of post-high school success in football for the Marchese boys (and their relatives) is astounding.
"When people think of our last name, they think of high school and college football," Michael Marchese said. "It's cool to have that tradition. I think it motivates me and Henry to do big things."
Both Henry and Michael, long and speedy 6-foot-3 targets in Stevenson's pass-happy offense, are being recruited by multiple Big Ten schools, such as Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State, Illinois and Northwestern, as well as other major Division I programs. It fits right in with the rest of the family.
Dad John Marchese was a running back at Iowa in the 1980s.
Oldest brother Joe, 20, is a lineman and long snapper at Maryland, while Jim, 19, is a linebacker at Illinois.
Two cousins on dad John's side went on to play football at Northwestern. Quinn Baker is a junior wide receiver for the Wildcats while Hayden Baker, a center, graduated from Northwestern two years ago.
Both Quinn and Hayden were standouts at Cary-Grove High School.
Then there's a cousin on mom Julie's side, Danny Enright Jr., who played tight end about four years ago at Oberlin. He eventually got NFL tryouts with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets.
Danny's dad Dan Sr., an uncle to the Marchese brothers, played center for the football team at Army.
"When we get together as a family, all we talk about is football," Henry Marchese said. "It's really nice to have such a big family bond in the same sport.
"For Michael and me, we just want to keep the tradition going."
For the Marchese twins, the tradition started in youth football when they were just second graders. They played on all the same teams, but didn't become wide receivers until high school. Michael was a running back and Henry was a quarterback back in the early days.
But it wasn't just football, the twins played every other sport together, too: soccer, hockey, baseball and basketball.
"It was nice being on the same teams," Henry said. "And our dad coached us a lot. It was a big family thing.
"I think Michael and I got our chemistry to what it is now from always playing together when we were growing up."
Henry and Michael would love to continue playing together in college, kind of like a package deal situation. But they aren't necessarily counting on it.
"People always think of the Marchese twins as doing everything together and always playing together, but we know that we are also two separate people and two different players and (college) coaches have to make the best decisions for their teams," Henry Marchese said. "We would love to play at the same school, and do everything together, like we always have."
But just getting to play in college anywhere, together or separately, would put the twins over the moon. This has been on their radars for years.
"We've grown up around it," Michael Marchese said of the college football track. "It's a dream for us to play in college like everyone else in our family. It would be cool to live out that dream."
For now, the twins aren't pushing the clock too hard. They're enjoying the final weeks of their senior season.
"The season goes by so fast, and it's possible that we could be playing our last games together … ever," Michael said. "We are savoring every moment."
• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw