Texas teenager Katie Jaillet, 17, has a last name pronounced like Gillette Stadium, and she says she’s loved the New England Patriots her entire life.
Jaillet’s mom, Libbi Jaillet, who moved to Hingham when she was 16, said that even though the family moved to Texas in 1998 — before her daughter was born — they’ve remained loyal to the team.
Jaillet doesn’t miss a game, even turning down Saturday night sleepovers when the Pats are playing the next day. She has a designated section of her closet for Patriots gear, a car named Brady after quarterback Tom Brady, and has been known to tape a photo of said quarterback to the star on top of her Christmas tree because, as Jaillet put it, “he’s the real star.”
All of this is to say, when the rising high school senior was readying for her annual vacation to the Cape this summer to visit close family friends, she dreamed of adding a side trip to Gillette to take her senior photos. Jaillet decided to reach out to the New England Patriots organization for permission to take photos at the stadium. She was provided both a thumbs-up and a photographer.
“It’s just absolutely incredible,” Jaillet said. “I’m so grateful. I’m so, so in shock that I got to do this. I’m so happy.”
On Aug. 2, Jaillet had the chance to attend a Patriots training camp, then pose for photos inside Gillette Stadium. She had never been inside Gillette before, and she wore her white Tom Brady jersey for the occasion.
“When I walked in, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is it.’ I was like, ‘Ahhh!'” Jaillet said. “I was shaking. I was about to cry because I was so happy.”
She said she thought of her father, Michael Jaillet Sr., a Newton native who passed away in 2014 at age 45 from ALS. He was the one who instilled in her a love of everything Pats.
“He would be so happy,” Jaillet said. “He would definitely be saying, ‘Go Pats.’ He’d be freaking out with me about the pictures.”
Jaillet said her father, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, predicted the Patriots would win the Super Bowl during the 2014 season.
“He said, ‘This is the Patriots’ year. I have a good feeling. I think they are going all the way,'” Jaillet said.
The Patriots, of course, won the Super Bowl that year 28-24 over the Seattle Seahawks, but Jaillet’s father passed away in December and didn’t get to see the game.
“When it happened, we all just went insane,” Jaillet said. “I just started bawling. And we all just knew it was my dad. He was definitely watching down on that.”
Jaillet said she hopes to become a sports writer someday and would love to study in Boston.
“I’m very proud of her,” Libbi Jaillet said, “and I know that her dad is looking down and is just beaming from ear to ear.”