When Tammy Greenhalgh lost her 13-year-old son Harry to a water-skiing accident, her friends at Bloomfield Tigers Junior Rugby League Club at Orange thought the family might pack up and move away to start afresh.
But she and husband Jason, along with younger son Jack, decided that the Bloomfield Tigers – and the senior team, the Orange Hawks, where Jason originally played – were ‘home’.
“We could have quite easily walked away but I never thought of doing that – I needed it all to keep me busy,” Greenhalgh said.
“I have 22 sons now,” she added, referring to Harry’s teammates and friends.
Harry died on New Year’s Day 2020 but would have been in the Under 15s this year – Jason still coaches the side.
“When they were airlifting Haz (Harry) to Sydney all Jason was thinking about in the helicopter was ‘How am I going to coach these boys?’” Greenhalgh said.
“He gets back and says ‘I’ve got to coach these boys, as this is what Haz would want.”
“We’re very fortunate we’ve got a great footy family in the juniors and the seniors here.
“Both my sons tagged along with Jason from an early age, so Jack has now got more ‘big brothers’ than anyone could ever want.”
For the nine years of tireless volunteering at the Tigers – including extremely trying circumstances for the past 20 months – Tammy was named the NSWRL Regional Volunteer of the Year Award winner for Western Region.
Greenhalgh’s contribution for her area also comes as the game celebrates the Harvey Norman Women in League Round and the part women play in Rugby League.
She is secretary, registrar, publicity officer, competition co-ordinator, clothing manager, canteen operations, and team photo organiser for all the grades at both the Tigers and Hawks.
“We’re just a footy family and we just love it,” Greenhalgh said.
And the players love her back. The team is pretty well unchanged since Harry left.
“They are an incredible bunch of boys and I feel so blessed,” she said.
“Our first game back last year after we lost Haz they won and asked me to lead the team song. And I thought Mums don’t lead team songs.
“But they said Haz would want me to do it. So I did and what an incredible feeling to sing with the boys. It was crazy – someone videoed it and I watched it later thinking ‘Oh wow, I sound like Haz’.
“Then I thought, ‘Hang on a minute, Haz sounds like me’. We’re very fortunate we’ve got such a great club and we do lots of things outside games, like Origin bus trips to Sydney.”
The Bloomfield JRLC 40th anniversary ball was set down for September 26 but has been put on hold. An alternative date early next year – as a pre-season celebration – is being explored.
“Tammy is well known for treating every child as her own and can be found helping less fortunate children apply for active kids grants and processing registrations,” Bloomfield JRLC said in nominating her for the award.
“She drops off shorts and socks to them and liaises with schools and the PCYC to get kids involved in league. She even organised a fundraiser BBQ for another club family who had lost their son.”