By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — Longtime fans of Lemon Bay football may have noticed a recurring name on the roster over the last 10 years since it seems like there’s always an Emmanuel playing for the Manta Rays.
No, the same player hasn’t failed 12th grade seven times over.
The Emmanuel family has had four sons play for Lemon Bay, with the legacy ending this year with Gardy.
“They’re a very good family,” said Rich Spedaliere, the voice of Lemon Bay football, who has seen all four Emmanuel brothers come through the Manta Rays program. “They continue to produce athletes, and they’re all very respectful, good kids.”
The legacy began with Keren and Robslin, who graduated in 2008. As the two eldest brothers, they set a precedent for their younger kin, who wanted to be just like them.
“We played football our whole childhood together,” Keren said. “We’d always have mini rivalries. It’s kind of unique and cool. It was just fun. We’d go home and talk about plays and teams and games.”
That passion for the game rubbed off on younger brother Glendy, who was the third Emmanuel to play for the Manta Rays. Glendy graduated in 2010, and played the same position as older brother Keren: running back.
Youngest Emmanuel, Gardy, a cornerback, idolizes his older brothers. He can remember going down to the football field when he was in elementary school to catch a glimpse of his brothers practicing.
Those days of watching his brothers practice helped motivate him to be a better football player.
“It made me want to be better than them,” Gardy said. “There was always a competition between them.”
Although Gardy was too young to compete with his brothers in the same way they competed with each other, he still got to experience football with Keren.
When Gardy was a sophomore at Lemon Bay, playing for the junior varsity team, Keren was his coach. In most situations, this could cause an issue, because who wants to listen to his older brother?
But that wasn’t the case with Gardy and Keren.
“It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary,” Keren said. “I was already his youth pastor. It wasn’t unfamiliar territory. He would listen to what I say, and learned.”
According to Gardy, the same respect was shown back to him.
“It was pretty cool having my older brother be my coach,” Gardy said. “He never showed favoritism towards me, but he always treated me fair.”
Gardy continues to honor his brother and former coach by wearing the No. 5 uniform.
The timing of having Keren coach Gardy was merely a coincidence, but it’s one varsity coach DJ Ogilvie thinks had a positive impact on his defensive back.
“Gardy really looks up to Keren as a role model, a hero and someone he wants to be like,” said Ogilvie, who joined the Manta Rays after the eldest three brothers had already graduated. “To have someone like that around, I think that was a phenomenal experience.”
Whoever is coaching Lemon Bay in 15-20 years could possibly see a whole new generation of Emmanuels. He would likely gladly welcome a dozen of them if they turned out to be anything like their family members.
This story was originally published in our yearly football preview of The Sun back in August.