Estancia High School football players visited the Costa Mesa Historical Society on Tuesday to learn about the city’s history.
And judging by the comments, it was an eye-opening experience for the student athletes.
Junior Johnny Juarez said he was eager to learn what was happening in the area 100 years ago.
“I don’t really know too much about Costa Mesa, to tell you the truth,” Johnny said before the tour of the historical society.
As he and 54 other players toured the historical society, Johnny, a right guard and a defensive end, held up his hand when local historian Art Goddard asked if any students had visited the Diego Sepulveda or Estancia Adobe.
“Do you know that you’re sharing the same land [as Native Americans Indians] did hundreds and hundreds of years ago?” Goddard asked the boys.
Goddard showed the high schoolers two maps. One black and white aerial shot from 1955 showed the city with large swathes of open space.
As Goddard turned to a newer photo, one football player exclaimed “dang!” at seeing the area filled with buildings.
“In less than 30 years, that’s the growth that happened,” Goddard said.
Sophomore Ricardo Silva ran his fingers over John Wayne Airport on the floor-to-ceiling map and pointed out his home.
“When it began, there was nothing here and now there is,” he said.
After the tour, Johnny said he appreciated his city’s ties to indigenous groups that previously inhabited what is now the City of the Arts.
“It makes you think about who was here and what they were doing,” he said.
Jackson Letterman, a senior and outside linebacker, said that before Tuesday’s tour, the historical society was part of the background of the city’s landscape.
“I’ve passed it numerous times. I’ve just never seen it before,” he said.
Afterward he said he was surprised to learn about Costa Mesa’s military history.
“[It] made me proud that I came from such a rich background,” the teen said.
In sharing part of the city’s past, Goddard said he hoped the group would feel more vested in their hometown.
“The more you know about your city, the more you’re likely to care about it,” he said.
Coach Mike Bargas said the trip gave the team “a good way for us to bond and appreciate where we’re from.”