Love, loss and uncertainty: Leon County coaches begin new life during trying times
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - When Garrett Jahn and Kaitlin Diluzio met at Chiles High School, Garrett was an assistant football coach and Kaitlin was the head volleyball coach.
The first meeting was anything but love at first sight.
“Garrett was using the gym for a football workout and I had volleyball practice,” Kaitlin said.
“Coach was coming at me,” Garrett said, “And was not happy that we were taking over the gym right then.”
“There were some words exchanged,” Kaitlin added.
According to Garrett, a year passed before they spoke again.
But, time healed old wounds, and a friendship turned into a support buddy, which blossomed into a relationship.
“We got to know each other on a different level from there,” Garrett said. “It’s good now.”
After two years of dating, the couple was set to wed on January 4 of this year.
However, Kaitlin’s dad, Nick Diluzio, had stage-four liver and stomach cancer. She says doctors feared he would not be around on their wedding day.
So, the future Jahns decided to hold a private wedding ceremony on December 31, with close family and friends at the hospital.
No pictures or video were taken of the ceremony.
“Garrett and I decided that, because of my dad’s health, it was really important to have our wedding with him,” Kaitlin said. “It was something that we really didn’t have to discuss or plan.”
Nick died the next day.
Three days later, Garrett and Kaitlin had a much bigger event at Amelia Island, and they shared with everyone in attendance this was their second wedding.
“There were cheers,” Kaitlin said, “There was clapping. It was really cool to watch and turn and face and see everybody knowing that my dad got to be there,” Kaitlin said.
“A rollercoaster of emotions,” Garrett said. “A lot of positive ones and some down ones too, but I think it made her and me stronger, and our family stronger.”
The couple pushed back their honeymoon to grieve their recent loss. Then in mid-march, COVID-19 again delayed the date.
In mid-June, Leon County allowed summer voluntary workouts. The June 15 start date stood out to the two fall-sport coaches.
“I look at the calendar and I say, ‘Daggum it that’s the week of my honeymoon,’” Garrett said.
“Everything Garrett and I do revolves around our high school schedules,” Kaitlin said, “The timing wasn’t ideal, but we’re happy that we did it because know we can come back completely focused.”
And, of course, Garrett kept an eye on his team from the west coast.
“Yeah,” Garrett said, “I was getting football updates in the afternoon and following up with the guys. At the same time, we were in a beautiful place and we had a great, memorable trip.”
The month of September will be interesting for the Jahns; in volleyball, Chiles is at Leon on September 1 before the school’s football teams meet on Sept. 18.
A week later, Leon and Chiles play volleyball for the second time.
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