By Joe Torosian
“Joe, when I became a Principal I was told to do three things. Make sure no one was standing in front of the school smoking. Make sure the grounds were properly landscaped. And, make sure I had a good football team.”—Tony Ortega, retired educator, football coach, current president of the National Football Foundation’s San Gabriel/Pasadena Chapter.
Right off the Top: Columns on back to back days? What is the world coming to?
To follow up on some points I made last night…
This might lead to a third column, so I’m asking for you not to send me emails or post comments of, “All you talk about is Temple City…blah, blah, blah…”
The example of Temple City serves the broader argument about what is happening in high school football.
TC football is currently lying between light and shadow; a legendary program—on the precipice of death—that could turn into Blair or bounce back to life like San Marino.
Even in the 1990’s, ten years removed from its last finals appearance and a dozen years after its last CIF title, Temple City football dominated everything.
I can remember going to the store while a football game was being played and feeling like I was in a ghost town. It was the only time you could get in and out of Ralph’s supermarket without standing in line for a half hour.
There was no traffic and very few people walking along Las Tunas.
Later, when I returned to sportswriting, we quickly understood that there was no such thing as homecoming at Temple City. Every Friday night home game was homecoming.
The stands were packed at North Field. The course-way from the stands to the snack bar was packed with people standing at the fence. The sideline was full of alumni, wearing old varsity jackets, out to support the team.
I saw people at football games who could care less about football. They were there because it was the place to be on Friday night. It was happening; it was energy, it was a community and it was centered around the football program.
As we built our staff at Mid Valley Sports, you had to pull teeth to get someone to go to South Pas, La Canada or San Gabriel (the bottle-neck exit from the parking lot there was a nightmare)…But everyone wanted to do Temple City…Because it was Temple City.
…And this was the case thirty years after the last CIF title.
I write about Temple City with knowledge and emotion; I want to see it succeed. A good football team in Temple City is good for the community, good for my family, good for high school football.
So, let me hit on a few things.
To The Parents:
1.) Be Respectful:…You will not change anything if you’re just cussing out the school, the school district and/or the administration. Even if they deserve it, don’t do it…These people are balancing staff issues, student issues and are always one phone call away from a lawyer looking to have his palm greased with a settlement.
2.) Be Patient:…Yes, the clock is ticking, and you may want a new coach as soon as yesterday but don’t force any rash decisions. Odds are the coaches available right now, are not coaches you want. They are available for a reason. Better coaches will hit the market later in the spring when pink slips are issued in regards to the next school year…Still, this is a time to ask questions and see what the admin/district/school is looking for and what your concerns are…It’s not about winning the Rio Hondo League in 2017…it is about establishing (re-establishing) a program for the long-term.
3.) Support Your Boosters:…I don’t know the condition of the “Ramrodders”…But if parents want a voice, then they need to become involved with the booster club; actively and physically supporting it with time, resources and finances.
4.) Give no credence, voice or standing to anyone complaining if they are not in active participation with the booster club. These people are full of sound and fury (and beer) yet do nothing but complain and torpedo programs.
5.) The Boosters Must Bond:…Keep your goals in plain sight and do everything you can to achieve them. The chances of you achieving them will be much better if you know each other…and like each other…The first two years my daughter played softball, the parents got along very well. They enjoyed spending time together. When the team party at the end of the season came, one of the dads, in tears, thanked everybody for the special season…I didn’t know it was something rare…but I came to learn that it was…I still have contact with many of those parents 15 years later…I’m glad I know these people…This needs to be strived for in the booster community…
6.) If you live in Temple City after your son graduates, stay committed to your boosters. Serve as an officer, accept a multi-year term, offer your skills and be that voice of sanity/experience for the next group of parents coming in.
7.) Let the new coach make a mistake without broadcasting it to social media or calling Mid Valley Sports and the Star News. Everyone makes mistakes, give a new coach some latitude and have his back. If he’s a quality coach, he’ll recognize it and come to appreciate your support. That will play a role in him being happy in his work and careful when tempted to test greener pastures.
8.) The boosters need to host or find homes to host team parties. While the boosters need to spend time together, so does the team. In sunshine and in sorrow, they need to bond after the game on Friday night…and other times when possible.
9.) Support your new coach by remembering you are not the coach. I don’t care if you were on staff at Bishop Amat for ten years, you are not on staff now, so take a seat and support the team.
10.) The sideline, the staff, the philosophy belong to the head coach. Ninety percent of the time a bad coach knows more than you do about football. An average coach knows a 100-percent more than you do and a good coach knows 200-percent more than you do.
–True Story: I was working the sideline at Monrovia in 2012 when they were wrapping up their third consecutive CIF title…and there were still people complaining that Ryan Maddox (3 CIF titles, 4 CIF title appearances, 6 semifinal appearances) didn’t know what he was doing.–
I’ve covered prep football for 20 years…games, practices, summer workouts and even I know very little compared to those who coach for a living.
11.) History…Temple City football, for example, has a rich history. Do everything you can to bring that history into the present. Let the current players know about those who came before them…This serious because TC football is not special, it is historic…it is unprecedented…and (this is on the community at large) it’s a joke the way it has been honored…It hasn’t been honored at all…It might have been private money, I get it, but they have that ridiculous bust in Temple City Park of Mr. Temple but nothing honoring the football history…Note to anybody thinking otherwise; football is what put Temple City on the map…There should be a statue, in the park, honoring its achievements…There shouldn’t be a player in uniform who doesn’t know the significance of the number “46”… They should know about the seven titles in nine seasons…They should know about the names, the numbers and the moments…I was stunned years ago when I saw lesser programs, with lesser history, publishing programs with statistical records, win-loss records and accounts about the past…Most schools don’t have that, boosters at TC need to make it work for them.
12.) I don’t want to sound like I’m always honking for my book…but everything that happens in it is true. It’s what I’ve observed over 20 years as a sportswriter…Especially the stuff the head coach goes through…It might be a good read if you are unfamiliar with what takes place within the prep football culture.
To The Administration/School/District:
1.) Remember the guy you hire to be your head football coach…Is the guy YOU hired to be your head football coach. To separate yourself from his mistakes makes you look pathetic…and sends the wrong message to parents, the media and the coaching community…Don’t rush to hire somebody…Take your time…Wrap it up the first of June if you must, but get the right guy…and support him.
2.) School boards in charge of hiring (this goes for multiple districts): Get off your butts and schedule a meeting…If the school has somebody they want to hire…If the parents are excited about this coach…then don’t wait five or six weeks until your next scheduled meeting…Call a special meeting, get a quorum together and get the thing done…If your desire is to hack off parents and take the life out of people, then, by all means, wait six weeks and let frustration build.
3.) When disaster strikes…try something unique and attempt to make things right and fix it…Avoid CYA-politics…Your coaches will appreciate it and so will the parents…Own everything in your program…That’s easier to do when the coach is on campus as a teacher…with skin in the game (salary/pension/career)…than a walk-on who will just pack his bags and move on.
4.) Don’t kid yourself (or be so arrogant) as to believe that no teaching goes on within the football program…Young people will remember the life lessons in these co-curriculars just as much as the stuff they learn in the traditional classroom…So keep perspective when there is a problem…Teens who are not involved in sports get pregnant, do drugs, get arrested and make poor decisions. If you’re going to hold a coach responsible for the actions of a few bad actors in the football program…Then hold the English teacher responsible for the kid/kids that get in trouble in their class.
5.) Title IX is not your friend:…I believe Title IX is not anyone’s friend, but that’s an opinion for another column…Many have expressed at Mid Valley Sports, and to me personally, that football pays the freight for the other sports that go on at the school…So treat it differently because it is different…Football is unique in the landscape of prep sports…Especially in a place like Temple City where there is the potential for the stands to be full…the badminton, water polo and soccer teams will thank you for helping football prosper.
I’ve got more…but I’m on deadline…just remember that it is not all about money or demographics…much of it comes down to being willing.
Midbits (same as ‘Tidbits’)
Midbits: I am going to miss the Poinsettia Bowl. It always provided a great opportunity to give young writers at the MVS some experience and to see some of the players we’ve covered over the years.
Midbits: I’m really sorry about the passing of Mary Tyler Moore.
Midbits: Tony Valazza, Christina Alfonso, Jim Jakeway, Gerald Wagner, Henry Rodriguez, Binh Dang, (& so many more)…I don’t believe I ever said thank you enough for that wonderful time when my oldest daughter was playing softball…So I’ll do it now…You all made the experience better and something to cherish…Thank you!
Midbits: I’ve been invited to Spring Training as a non-roster player for the Angels and Dodgers…I’ll be in the seats behind the dugout, and they said they’ll let me know when they need me…So, I got that going for me…Which is nice…
Midbits: This was too funny…Posted by former South Pas Tiger, Johnny Garabedian:
“A friend of mine has two tickets for the 2017 SUPER BOWL, both box seats. He paid $5,500 each ticket, but he didn’t realize last year when he bought them, it was going to be on the same day as his wedding. If you are interested, he is looking for someone to take his place…It’s at St Paul’s Church, in Culver City at 3pm. Her name is Ashley, she’s 5’7″, about 125 lbs, good cook too…..She’ll be the one in the white dress.”
The Dude abides…
Contact Joe at email@example.com
Author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” available through amazon.com …and “The Dead Bug Tales” available this fall.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joet13b