Glendale Bears football senses fresh start

EAGLE ROCK — Though still three weeks away from the start of the seven-game season, there’s already plenty of reason for optimism surrounding the Glendale Bears Youth Football and Cheerleading organization.

Practices appear to be crisp and various fundamentals are being learned in anticipation of the upcoming campaign beginning Sept. 21.

It’s left first-year president Cynthia Perez energized for a program that was formed in 1969.

“We are going to have about 125-150 players, plus 60 cheerleaders this year,” said Perez, who served as the organization’s interim president last season. “It’s mostly been about word of mouth and being able to attract the kids out here to play and cheer.

“In the end, it’s just about going out there and having fun. You also want to work closely with the local high schools and help supply them with some talent.”

Perez said the organization mostly attracts participants from Glendale, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park and Highland Park. The Bears compete in the San Gabriel Valley Junior All-American Football Conference and have five teams that play at different levels.

The Bears field teams in five separate divisions: Flag (6-8 years old), Gremlin (8-10), Junior Pe Wee (9-11), Pee Wee (10-12) and Junior Midget (11-13). Perez said the organization is open to boys and girls 6-14, who play on teams determined by a weight and age formula.

To ensure participation for all players, Perez said each athlete is guaranteed at least 10 downs per contest.

Alex Veliz and Juan Monzon have been busy getting their teams set for opening week.

Veliz, who coaches at the Junior Pee Wee level after piloting the Gremlin squad last season, said the Junior Pee Wee team has multiple skilled players who might be in line to make major impacts and lead the Bears to some victories.

“We’ve brought in quite a few good players from the smaller divisions,” said Veliz, who also serves as the organization’s vice president. “You want to try to raise the bar a little bit, but, at the same time, not look too far ahead.

“The biggest thing is to build a solid team and find a good balance across the board. The other goal is to prepare them for high school ball. Basically, this is when [the players] decide if they love football and if it’s for them to continue at higher levels.”

Monzon, who serves as head coach of the Gremlin squad after being the Junior Midget coach last season, agreed with Veliz.

“You want to have that strong team and see them out there playing with confidence,” said Monzon, who has been a part of the Bears’ organization for five years and is also a conference representative. “You want them to feel good about themselves.”

Glendale will play its home games at Occidental College. The Bears played their home contests last season at Glendale High’s Moyse Field.

The regular season will finish in November.

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