COSTA MESA — On a sunny Saturday with temperatures in the low 70s, a nice breeze rustled through Jim Scott Stadium at just after noon.
Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan wasn't kidding when he told the crowd, "What a wonderful day for football, huh?"
A few seconds later, Monahan said something else that made the crowd applaud even louder. He announced that the 2011 Costa Mesa Pop Warner season was officially open.
Everything appeared to be in place on opening day. There were more than 200 Mesa Eagles on eight teams, from Flag all the way up to Midget, ready to get their season going with scrimmages Saturday afternoon. There were 40 Pop Warner cheerleaders on three squads. The Costa Mesa High band and Estancia High cheerleaders got everyone in the mood, as did drummer Daniel Castro, an Estancia High student, on the field.
School board members and city leaders were all present. The one man who wasn't was the one who the stadium was named after, Jim Scott. This is the first Pop Warner season since Scott died in May at 85. He was instrumental in bringing the stadium, which was built in 2008, to Estancia, as well as an Olympic-sized pool at Costa Mesa High.
"Everybody wants to come play us," said Ed Baume, Costa Mesa Pop Warner's director of football. "They want to come and play on this field. Jim Scott would be proud to know that what his dream was is a reality. We wouldn't have it if it wasn't for him. They talked about it ever since I've lived here, about building a second stadium. It's a good facility. Even the referees say, 'Yeah, we want to go to Costa Mesa.' "
Baume pointed to the letters that spell "Jim Scott Stadium" above the locker rooms.
"Normally they don't name [a stadium] for somebody who's alive," he said. "They made an exception for Jim."
Saturday was also a big day for Baume, 83, who said he has been involved with Costa Mesa Pop Warner since 1965. He was one of three people who received special recognition from league President Chris Cox during the opening day ceremonies. The others were Costa Mesa Pop Warner cheer advisor and Estancia High cheer coach Yumi Patterson, as well as Costa Mesa City Council member and former CMPW President Steve Mensinger.
Baume kept his speech to the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation, short and sweet.
"I have been around a while, and I hope to be around even longer," he said. "In 2013, Costa Mesa Pop Warner will be 50 years old, and the very first team we ever had was the Costa Mesa Pee Wee Colts. I hope that in 2013 we'll be able to restore the Costa Mesa Pee Wee Colts to the standing they deserve. I look forward to that day."
As part of his duties, Baume set up Saturday's scrimmages, mostly against teams from Yorba Linda and the Palos Verdes area. The Flag team of 5- and 6-year-olds was first up in the stadium at 1 p.m.
The real games begin next weekend for Costa Mesa Pop Warner. The organization's home stadium bears the name of someone gone, but definitely not forgotten.
"I think that kind of leadership, that boldness of Jim Scott has helped all of us to push and get involved," Costa Mesa Chief Executive Tom Hatch said. "That leadership is going to be guiding us for many years."
Cox is just in his first year leading the Eagles as president. He said he also saw opening day as an event that really brought the community together. So did Newport-Mesa Unified School District school board member Judy Franco.
"[Costa Mesa Pop Warner] is a magnificent program," Franco said. " It teaches so much in the way of values and teamwork. This is really what life is about."