Looking back, Kevin Monford figures he needed a wake-up call in a big way.
His chronic misbehavior and poor grades early on at Capuchino High caused his mother to leave him with his father in Detroit without notice during a vacation in the spring of his sophomore year. Although that move was a shock to the system, Monford said that wasn’t what turned him around.
Monford’s biggest reality check came several months later when he found his father ravaged by drugs – the first time Monford learned of what had been a pattern of relapses over 20-some years. That necessitated a quick move to his grandparents’ home in the Detroit area, but Monford’s mother, Jackie Jefferson, soon realized he would need more structure to complete high school.
So Monford headed back to San Bruno in January, but with a fierce determination to make the most of a fresh start.
“Right after I saw my dad, that’s what kind of made me make sure my future is a good one,” the Capuchino senior said. “The only way to have a good future, you need a good education. You need hard work and dedication – a lot of dedication.”
Ten months later, Monford’s abrupt turnaround is in full swing. He’s trying hard to atone for “all the disrespectful things I did to my mom.” He has devoted himself to his schoolwork for the first time and has dramatically improved his grades – “I have all A’s and one B so far, and I’m trying to get that B up to an A.”
Oh, and he has been a force on the football field for Capuchino – playing an integral role as the rapidly improving Mustangs continue to distance themselves from the rock-bottom status the program had fallen into in recent years.
With the undersized Monford playing stout defense at outside linebacker and rallying his teammates as Capuchino’s vocal leader, the 4-3 Mustangs are in the thick of the Peninsula Athletic League Lake Division title race. Cap, 2-0 in league games, visits Carlmont (3-0 Lake) on Friday at 3 p.m. in a first-place showdown.
The resurgent player aids the resurgent program.
Monford is the smallest Mustang at 5-foot-6, 150 pounds. But he more than makes up for that with what coach Adam Hyndman called a “relentless, no fear” style of play.
“He plays like he’s 6-3. We look to him to lead the team,” said Hyndman, who first saw that trademark intensity when Monford was a frosh/soph running back. “Maybe it’s a little man’s complex. No one’s going to get in his way.”
Hyndman raved about how much Monford has matured – “he’s a totally different person … he’s turned it completely around” – and installed him as a captain after observing his dedication during the summer.
While relishing being a difference-maker in Capuchino’s encouraging season, Monford leaves no doubt that his “main mission” is his education and getting into a good college.
He’s pleased he has repaired his relationship with his mother – “she’s a good mom; we’re fine.”
As for his father, Kevin, Sr., Monford said that their time together started out really well. But once his father’s girlfriend and two kids moved into their two-bedroom apartment, the stress of supporting five people on one salary appeared to trigger the drug relapse. Monford and his father haven’t spoken since.
“I’ve heard things about him, and they haven’t been good,” said Monford, who had only seen his father on vacations before moving in with him last year. “All I can really do is hope and pray for him.”
Asked what lessons he takes from his tumultuous stretch, Monford said, “It made me realize that I want to have a good future for myself, to not be on drugs, to be in a good job, making good money, … to be happy.”
“I really wish I would’ve learned to handle what I needed to handle years ago,” he continued. “My dad would always say experience is the best teacher, and it really is. Your experiences do teach you a lot.”