There were some distinctive reoccurring words that were used to describe Dave Kemp and Frank Kallem.
As the longtime Burbank High coaches, teachers and athletic directors occupied seats at the school’s outdoor sports facility Saturday, a host of speakers took to the podium to tell stories and extol the virtues of the two Bulldogs mainstays.
In speeches by family members, former athletes, dignitaries and colleagues, there were certain words that came up time and time again referring to Kemp and Kallem, words like icons, legacy, mentors, role models and gratitude.
Kemp and Kellem were the guests of honor at a celebration of their contributions from a combined 85 years of survive to Burbank High in a ceremony that was attended by many who have known and have benefited from the pair’s decades of dedication.
The two longtime friends, confidants and colleagues, who happened to marry sisters, were ultimately bestowed the honor of the facility bearing their names, from that day forward to be known as Kamp-Kallem Field.
It was evident what a profound impact Kemp and Kallem have made during their tenure — and beyond — at Burbank High by the number of former students and athletes who attended the event. Many of those individuals took the time to thank the two men and let them know how much Kemp and Kellem impacted their lives.
One individual walked up to Kemp following the conclusion of the ceremony and wanted to thank his former coach for impacting his life.
“I’m just glad I was able to help you,” Kemp said.
The individual replied, “More than you will ever know.”
To both men, who graduated from Hoover High and attended Glendale Community College, the relationships they developed with those former students and athletes is the most rewarding and fulfilling aspect of their tenures, as Kemp dedicated 38 years and Kemp gave 34 years of service.
“For both of us, the relationships that we had, and still have with many of our former athletes and students, is by far the most important aspect of what we were able to accomplish here,” Kallem said.
“Yes, the CIF championships were great and those will always be special. But it’s the people who we might have helped along the way and might have influenced in a small way that means the most to us.”
Kallem said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of gratitude and affection he and Kemp received Saturday.
“It really just touches my heart,” he said. “You don’t really realize when you’re coaching how you are really affecting people. And then you see them come back and you say to yourself ‘Maybe we did something right.’
“Dave and I always really cared about our athletes, not only what they did when they were here, but what they have done in their life outside of Burbank High. And we continue to follow them.”
Kemp and Kallem coached a cavalcade of successful Bulldogs athletes over the years, athletes who would go on to earn CIF Southern Section, state, national and All-American titles and honors.
Kemp coached five sports and Kallem coached three.
Kemp led Bulldogs boys’ cross-country teams to CIF Southern Section championships in 1964 and 1970 and a Bulldogs boys’ soccer team to a CIF Southern Section finals appearance in 1986.
In addition, Kemp was instrumental in helping the formation of girls’ sports teams at Burbank High and was a stanch proponent of Title IX.
“I could have taken an extra two hours in my speech today to thank all these kids we had the chance to associate with back then, and still to this day,” Kemp said. “It wasn’t nearly as much us as it was them.
“Frank and I did what we did because we loved what we were doing and we really cared for the young athletes who we had the pleasure of coaching. When I look back, it’s just so fulfilling.”
Kallem received CIF and national recognition for his coaching achievements, as his teams captured a number of league titles and his athletes went on to state and national success.
“This was fun for us,” Kemp said. “It was amazing. “But it was never about us as coaches, it was all about the athletes. We never wanted the spotlight, it was more important that the athletes got the spotlight.”
Both retired in 2000 and were inducted into the Burbank Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.
“This is what I wanted to do with my life, and looking back, I wouldn’t have done anything different,” Kellem said.
And for countless thousands who were cared about, influenced and mentored by Kemp and Kallem, they are eternally grateful for that.