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Kemp-Kallem legacy now extends to Burbank High athletic field

Kemp-Kallem legacy now extends to Burbank High athletic field
Burbank High School coaches Frank Kallem and Dave Kemp walk along the campus track in 2000, shortly before they retired as the school's athletic directors. The Burbank Unified school board agreed to christen the turf and track the Dave Kemp and Frank Kallem Field on Thursday. (File Photo)

During a combined 85 years of service, former Burbank High School teachers, coaches and athletic directors Frank Kallem and Dave Kemp spent quite a bit of time at the school’s athletic facilities.

So perhaps it was fitting the Burbank Unified school board felt a proper way to honor the local sports icons was to name the school’s main athletic field after them.

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The board voted 5-0 to christen the unnamed turf the Dave Kemp and Frank Kallem Field during a meeting Thursday.

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“Burbank High was our lives,” said Kallem, who spent 38 years with the district. “I came here in 1962 when Dave was in the military and when he came back, we’ve basically been here since, until we retired in 2000. We put everything we had and spent all day here. It’s special to have this honor.”

The duo graduated from Hoover High in 1957 and competed at Glendale Community College before spending their professional careers at Burbank High.

Talk of renaming the field brought about several pleasant memories for Kemp at the school’s track.

“That was like our baby,” said Kemp, who dedicated 47 years to the district, including 12 as a board of education member. “We groomed it, and we got it ready every day for the track meets. We picked up rocks from the track, and we were very instrumental in bombarding the district repeatedly about the condition of the place.”

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Kemp added, “Finally, in 1974, they dug the whole thing out, and that’s how we got the track renovated.”

Kallem recalled having to use persuasive tactics.

“We’d always pick up rocks on the track and, one time, we took this great big rock, lifted it up and placed it on the principal’s desk,” Kallem said with a chuckle. “That let him know we needed a new track.”

Planning for a ceremony and plaque will get underway in January. There is no expected cost to the district because Burbank High graduate Randy Arrington is raising funds for the event and the award.

The vote on Thursday caps a process that began on April 19 when Arrington made a recommendation during a board meeting for the naming.

The district’s facilities-naming committee met Oct. 24 and voted to make a recommendation in favor of the combined Kemp-Kallem. The board also hosted a public hearing on Nov. 15 on the issue.

There had been virtually no dissent except for a Burbank High graduate who said Thursday that while he had no problem with Kemp or Kallem, such distinctions should be given only after a person is deceased.

Board member Steve Ferguson said he appreciated the comment, but countered with a different point.

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“I want students to be able to interact with some really big heroes in town,” he said. “I don’t think that we name every building after somebody who’s still living because that’s a legacy that hasn’t been fully spelled out, and I understand that, but I think there are exceptions when people distinguish themselves not only in service in the educational field but beyond that.”

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