Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Day, Cal Lutheran Football and Occidental Football

My last full day in California before
Catania Round II...

Barack H. Obama
44th President of the
United States of America

Mike and I started the day with a father-son bonding moment watching Barack Obama getting officially sworn in as our new President.  I REALLY feel like today was a rebirth of the American  dream.  These are VERY TOUGH times and the task for our new President and our nation will be difficult but I have renewed HOPE!

Did you know that a Cuban born designer created Mrs. Obama's stunning dress for the Inauguration?


After watching the Inauguration, I spent the rest of the day talking to interested seniors at two Southern California powerhouse Division III football programs about coming to Europe to continue their careers.

Now while my knowledge is limited to what I learned and experienced in my one season in Catania, I felt that I know enough to get people to not waste time and effort in looking for a European opportunity.

Stop #1
California Lutheran University
Thousand Oaks, California
7-2 in 2008

On the far left is CLU's Head Football Coach, Ben McEnroe with nine of his seniors who are interested in the possibility of coming to Europe some time soon.  Ben just finished his second season at the helm and is doing a great job.  The Kingsmen's only two losses this past season were to former Catania Elephant star lineman Brandon Bennett's 11-1 Willamette team and to 9-1 Occidental College.

We had a good 90 minute dialog and I felt good about getting these Kingsmen headed in the right direction, which is pretty much East across the Atlantic Ocean actually.

Stop #2
Occidental College
Eagle Rock, California
9-1 in 2008

Occidental's only loss was 48-33 to 11-1 Willamette (Brandon Bennett strikes yet again!) in the opening round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.

College Hall of Fame Certificate
Bill Redell
Occidental College, Defensive Back, 1962-63

Occidental is located about a one hour drive south of Cal Lutheran and I got there a little early.  While checking out their trophy room where I was scheduled to speak to the Oxy seniors, I came across this Hall of Fame Certificate.

Now this is significant for me because in 1958, when I first got interested in football, Bill Redell was the star QB (#12) of San Marino High School in the town where we lived.  That year he led the Titans to a Rio Hondo League crown and a berth in the C.I.F. "AA" playoff finals, a crushing 20-0 loss to Claremont H.S.  My Mother drove a bunch of the neighborhood kids to many of the away games and we snuck into most of the home games by crawling under the fence behind the visiting stands.  Bill would go on to win C.I.F. Player of the Year honors and earn a scholarship to U.S.C. before transferring to Occidental.

Bill was the obvious star and leader of that great team and I guess you would say he was my childhood sports hero.  I remember going to watch him practice one day where I saw the my other two memorable Titan players, twins Newt and Cecil Withers.  The twins were both linemen and I really don't know how good they were but I fell in love with their names.

After college, Bill played several years in the Canadian Football League and then I lost track of his exploits.  I wonder whatever became of him?

Occidental's Interested Seniors

Equally attentive, they were a great group too.  Rocky Ciasulli, on the far right, actually played in Finland last season and was a good sounding board for all of us with his perspectives.

Rocky Ciasulli and
Occidental's Head Football Coach
Dale Widolff

Dale has been Occidental for 27 seasons and, like Ben McEnroe at Cal Lutheran, is both a good guy and a good football coach.

Barack H. Obama
Occidental College Student

Did you know that President Obama attended Occidental before transferring to Columbia to earn his B.A. degree?  Well Oxy knows it and the Tigers were justifiably proud of him on this special day.  Small world...


zion said...

great to know that

Sabo said...


When President Obama was at Occidental, his name was "Barry" Obama...As a side line, I coached the offensive line at that time under Bruce Allen, formally of the Tampa Bay Bucs...


Sabo said...

As a follow-up to "Obama / Oxy"...He only stayed there two years and then moved on to Columbia University...It appears Oxy was not a large enough "stage" for him...But, it does appear that it did play a huge role in changing his name to Barack and embracing his "African" roots...