Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time for Another Season

The last ten days have been ones of experimentation, renewed friendships and preparation.


In Sicily, one of my favorite foods was cipolata. This concoction is simply green onions wrapped in bacon, barbequed and swabbed with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It is simply DELICIOUS!

We fired up the outdoor gas grill and had at it. They turned out pretty good but not quite up to Sicilian standards. I'll need to keep refining my technique until I get this 100% right!


I got the chance to hit the links at The Lakes Golf Course in Ventura one last time before the football season starts. I joined Carl Melhorn and Brian FitzGerald, both Rio Mesa H.S. teachers, for this afternoon of fun and friendship.

The very model of consistency, I shot a 53 - 53 = 106. With a little better luck or skill I could have broken the magic 105 barrier!

Renewed Husky Friendships

Saturday saw us at the home of Mike and Sue D'Antuono for a celebration of their 30th year of home ownership of the old Gillette Hunting Lodge in Altadena, California. That's Mike in red and my MUCH better half Laurie on the left. Mike was wrestler in his college days at the University of Washington where I first met him in the late 1960's.

Mike's maternal grandparents immigrated to the U.S.A. from the Sicilian town of Caltanisetta. Laurie and I visited and took pictures of their family's home town back in February. Apparently they were a big hit with Mike and his mother.

There is nothing like getting together with some ex-Huskies for an afternoon of war stories! On the left is former WR Pete "Spear" Claridge and on the right is DB Loren Brucker whose home in Newport Beach we visited last week. Former OL Paul Sabolic chimed in with some stories of his own about both UW football and his recent 3 week family visit to Europe.

As always it was great time to swap tales, find out "what ever happened to..." and just enjoy people you really care about.


On Sunday we celebrated my mother's 84th birthday in San Marino at one of her favorite restaurants, The Colonial Kitchen for brunch. Our waitress was Rosa who my sister, Marilyn, who set up the affair specially requested. Next to Rosa is our son Michael's fiancee, Vanessa, and in pink is the belle of the ball, Ascuncion "Chuny" Contreras.

That's my sister Linda on the left.

In Sicily, Jason frequently talked about being a tourist in your own town. This was one of those moments for me. Our family moved into our house on Chelsea Road in San Marino in 1958. The Colonial Kitchen has been in it's location all 50 years and is only one very long block from their house. While everyone else in my family has been frequent visitors to this restaurant, I had never been inside their doors!

Well, once inside I ordered their Titan Breakfast. In great American tradition, it was so much food that I did not finish it!!!

I've been missing this boat for a LONG time.


The 2008 Rio Mesa High School Freshmen Football season is just around the corner so we had to have a Frosh Staff meeting at Cronies Sports Grill to prepare. I will be the Head Coach and have 5 GREAT assistants to work with! Together we have OVER 160 years of coaching exoperience.

On the left is John Reardon, former Rio Mesa Head Coach and still the second winningest coach in Ventura County history. John will work with the offensive line and linebackers.

Behind me is Danny Solarez, former Hueneme H.S. Head Coach and a long time Spartan assistant. If Danny can't fire you up then you are emotionless. He will work with our offensive backs and trouble shoot on defense where needed. He is a master at teaching young players how to tackle.

Across from Danny in red is Brian FitzGerald. Brian is our Athletic Director, incredibly successful Head Track Coach and a former Spartan running back. He will be our Offensive Coordinator working with the QB's and DB's.

Across from me is Ralph Lemos another former Spartan player. He is in his 14th year coaching at Rio Mesa and will also work with the OL and DL.

The first coach on the right of the picture is Mike Muro. He has coached at Rio Mesa for over 30 years and is great in his attention to detail. He will work with the OL and Linebackers.

We should have a lot of fun as a staff and hopefully all of this knowledge will get transferred to our players.

Standing is Bob Gregorchuk, Rio Mesa's Head Football Coach, at our program's staff meeting Sunday afternoon. He has to oversee a 17 man coaching staff that will work with about 155 players on 3 teams, NOT AN EASY JOB. Here he is covering many of the last minute details that will have an effect on our 2008 football experiences at yet another BBQ.


Monday we started handing out equipment to the Freshmen. The Varsity and the Junior Varsity teams had already handed out their equipment the previous Thursday and Friday so the Equipment Room was a little bare by the time we got to issue gear.

Ask any football coach about his least favorite part of the season and I would bet that 90% will say the day you issue gear! The six of us are in that 90%!

Here Brian FitzGerald is seen recording what equipment each player has been issued, collecting money for Spirit Packs and making sure that each player's Parent Permission/Proof of Insurance/Physical Exam Form has been turned in correctly filled out.

Our Varsity wears the Michigan Wings on their helmet, a tradition started in 1993, John Reardon's last as Head Coach at the school. Only the Varsity gets to wear the Wings with the two lower level teams wearing plain black helmets.

For some reason the helmet company sent us four helmets with Ram's horns. We have to send them back and get the correct ones in exchange but I really wanted to get one for Gregorio back in Catania to top off his practice gear ensemble!

Brian took a moment to relive a typical moment from his Spartan playing days back in the 1970's as a running back.

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