Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm a Troy Football Fan

La Habra, CA--I work at La Habra High School. I am a huge Highlanders fan. But, I am also a Troy High School Football fan.

Just before kickoff of the LH vs. Ocean View HS first round CIF game started, six high school boys entered the field via concrete steps and stood on the sideline. As the person in charge of the game, and a.k.a. the "Sideline Nazi" I instinctively moved toward the boys ready to remove them.

As I came within a few feet, I first noticed that three of the six were wearing Troy High School jackets. I thought, "what are they doing here?" Then, upon scrutinizing their faces, I noticed that four of the six had blue "LH" logos on their cheeks. One of them wore blue eye out.

It hit me--these were the star players from the Troy HS team that was recently disqualified from CIF. I recognized Derek Coleman and at least one of the Sweeney cousins. These guys were at LHHS's game instead of doing a number of things: sitting at home, protesting Fullerton's game, or something else.

Instead, these six guys stood on the sidelines and cheered La Habra. Soon, the story spread down the sideline and Jane and Fred from the La Habra Journal were taking pictures and interviewing the six players.

Dr. Kaufman, LH principal, greeted the players, welcomed them to the stadium, and praised their gesture of sportsmanship. Later, Coach Mazzotta's father, the head coach of Cerritos College, sauntered over and had a conversation with the boys. Mr. Fowler, father of Kyle Fowler (LH middle linebacker) leaned over the railing and chatted with one of the Troy players, asking how they were doing.

After LH was up 35-0, Coleman and Ronnie Hillman, Jr. stood side by side, having a private conversation, shared a chuckle, and then gave a respectful handshake and knuckle tap. Shortly thereafter, the entire starting LH defense walked in a single file line and shook hands with all six Troy players.

Towards the middle of the fourth quarter, Petey Puga and Chris Alvarez had an encouraging talk with the taller of the two Sweeney cousins and discussed possible outcomes, players they admired in the league, and what each was planning to do after graduation.

It was the classiest gesture I have ever witnessed in high school sports. That the Troy players, who really lost everything, came to support a rival is a tribute to the top class program at Troy High School. This kind of action is bred out of solid parenting and coaching that preaches sportsmanship first.

The CIF mantra is "Academics, Integrity, Athletics". Troy is truly and academic institution. They show integrity both on and off the field as exemplified by the "Troy Six". They are a school that had produced great high school athletes. The tragedy is that their football team isn't competing in the CIF playoffs. The victory is that six of their players--torch bearers for the entire program--took the first step towards overcoming the setback.

Kudos to the Troy Warriors, their coaches, teachers, and parents.

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