ARC football player follows in family’s footsteps


James Ghilardi leans on a tackle sled on the American River College football field after practice on Oct. 16 2019. (Photo by Colin Bartley)

Colin Bartley

James “Jimmy” Ghilardi comes from a family deeply rooted in athletics and coaching, and in keeping with the tradition, he has continued his football career into American River College, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

Ghilardi’s father and grandfather were both coaches, so he says he was raised with a love of the sport and a healthy competitive spirit. Ghilardi played football at Christian Brothers High School with his father as the coach and has now moved into his role in the offensive line for the ARC football team.

Outside of the already demanding sport, he strives towards an Administration of Justice degree, hoping to carve out a career in the law field down the road. His coaches encourage him to take at least 18 units to make sure he is reaching his goals.

“Our coaches are very encouraging. Obviously academics are the most important thing,” Ghilardi said. “So, they constantly make sure we are on top of our academics, making sure that the football guys are subverting expectations.” 

After finishing his education, Ghilardi said he hopes to use his administration of justice degree to better his community.

“Right now my career goal is to be a district attorney and work more with the court side of law enforcement. I’ve always wanted to help people in my community.” Ghilardi said.

Ghilardi has grown close with his coaches and teammates over the seasons with them.

“The team is always like a family, and you are close with most of your coaches because you are all out here for the same reason,” Ghilardi said.

With the football season just starting, Ghilardi says he is genuinely optimistic and hopeful that the team will play to their full potential. 

“I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season … everything we set out to do is still ahead of us,” Ghilardi said.

Ghilardi grew up being coached by his dad in a variety of sports he wanted to try, and then was coached by his dad for part of his high school football career. Ghilardi was thankful that his dad never played favorites on the team and always challenged him.

“He was a lot harder on me and I rose to the occasion, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I loved playing for my dad,” Ghilardi said.

Ghilardi has always grown up in this athletically competitive environment. His grandfather coached at ARC through the late 1980s and 1990s, which led to Ghilardi’s dad to also coach on the campus before moving to CBHS.

“I come from a family of coaches; my grandfather, my dad and also my mom’s side. Everyone had a tie to some kind of sport,” Ghilardi said.

Offensive line coach Julian McElroy works closely with Jimmy on and off the field. They share a mutual respect for each other that shows through the way they communicate.

“Jimmy is a natural born leader for sure. Having him on the team helps a lot because Jimmy is a 4.0 student. He’s a smart guy, the way he carries himself is very professional,” McElroy said. “He’s one of those guys we can look to and say, ‘Hey, we need things to get done this way,’ and Jimmy will definitely get it done.”