Note: On Saturday, Nov. 5, I was shocked at the headlines on the front page of our daily newspaper, the Pasadena Star News, which read, "Kids Football Canceled," and our own La Cañada Gladiators were the victims of fears of gang violence from the Pasadena area. What a shame.
This reminded me of a story in the Star-News with a picture of local David Lepisto of La Cañada playing for the Junior All-American team there. This was many years ago. Anyhow, it inspired a small group of us, Russ Kettle, Joe Keating, Randy Boal and Frank and I to form the Junior All American Football here ... hopefully.
That first year was exciting with Youth House director "Smitty" helping us to get it going. A signup sheet was put on the bulletin board there, and it was soon filled up. Then there was a parent meeting to explain the program. Soon, committees were formed, teams, the Pee Wees and the Midgets. Dr. Homer Randolph volunteered to be the team's physician, which we were so grateful for.
Parent teams were formed to plan halftime activities and snack bar duties. The snack bar turned out to be our long planks in a square. Our camper was backed up to the counters and served as the kitchen, where hot dogs were prepared and coffee was brewed. There were buckets of ice here and there for soft drinks. This was on the west side of the playing field behind the bleachers.
Officers were Russ Kettle, president; Frank Abbey, vice president; Claude Bartlett, second vice president; Carl Lepisto, secretary and Roger Schandel, treasurer.
Pee Wee coaches were Kim Schleicher, Jerry Springer, Carl Funke, Steve Abbey and Randy Smith. Hank DiLucca was conference representative. Bob Wagner and Bill Gableman were athletic directors.
One of the front pages of that 1968 program contained this article titled "Words for a Pop Warner Boy," (the former name of the organization.)
You like football? Good, it's a great game. Maybe the greatest of all. But it is more than a game. It is an investment in yourself. An investment in courage, in quick thinking, in sportsmanship, self control and in teamwork. One day you will learn that football's fullest rewards are seldom immediate, but come with time. When you have learned that lesson, you will be a man.
Ah, yes, those were the days. And it was 37 years ago. Imagine.
'Till next time ...
P.S. Although all games in the conference were canceled, teams will be allowed to play their bowl games. Our Gladiator teams will play their games on Sunday, Dec. 4 at St. Francis High School, to be named the Enterante Bowl in honor of Lou, popular past president, who passed away from cancer. All teams will be playing during the day, Gremlins, Jr. Pee Wee, Pee Wee, Jr. Midgets and Midgets. Also, all cheerleaders will be there to cheer them on. Go and enjoy!