Sunday, February 27, 2022

A Profile in Courage, Two Passings, Jacob's Soccer and, What Else, EuroBall

Tues.-Sun., February 22-27, 2022 

The horrific news of Russia's invasion of the Ukraine really hit home this week when I saw this Facebook post about one of our EuroBall coaching brothers . . .

Coach Dale Heffron is the Head Coach
of Ukraine's Vinnytsia Wolves

A native of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Dale is a veteran EuroBall coach.

Another quote from Coach Heffron
this week, a true Profile in Courage

We also had two passings this week of veteran coaches in our area.

Jim Fenwick was a great coach
for many seasons

His most recent stops were at Pierce College, Occidental College and Los Angeles Valley College.

I first met Coach Fenwick in 1981 when I was coaching the C.I.F. team in the Daily News All-Star Game against a squad made up of Los Angeles City players.

Our practices were held at Pierce College and Coach Fenwick was a great host who did everything possible to make our two weeks of practice as smooth as possible.

He was simply a first class human being.

Coach Larry Miller was
a Hueneme Viking for life

After a stellar career as a Hueneme running back in the late 1960s, he would eventually return to his alma mater in the 1990s as their Head Football Coach.

In the 25 or so years since he had left, Hueneme's fortunes on the gridiron had been dismal, to say the least, under a revolving door of head coaches.

Once on board as the Vikings leader, Hueneme embarked on an unprecedented run of league championships, playoff appearances and at least one California high school record setting performance.

He left his mark.

This was yet another week of Laurie and I sending more donated used jerseys and pants of good quality to two teams in Italy.

Our recipients this week were . . .

The Pride of Napoli

Naples favorite team, the Briganti play in Italy's third division which plays the nine-man version of American football which, frankly, I have a hard time wrapping my head around.

The Briganti were sent two boxes containing a total of 40 jerseys and 80 pants to help outfit their youth teams in quality practice gear.

I was not a stranger to the team.

I actually rooted for them at the
DIII Championship game in 2019,
a.k.a., Nine Bowl XX in Milano

Truth be told, they only had t-shirts in XXL for the Briganti, none for their opponents that night, the Verona Redskins.

That made it easy for me to pick a team to back that night.

We also sent a box of equipment to our old club, the first one I ever coached in my EuroBall career, the . . .

The BEST American football club
in all of Sicily

The Elephants were receiving three highly coveted shoulder pads and a small amount of clothing, mostly odds and ends used to prop up the shoulder pads so that they would not destroy the box as they tried to return to their natural rakish tilt. Still, two more jerseys and eight more pants can't hurt your efforts to equip a few new players to the fold.

Our totals now for the equipment we have shipped to 21 teams in ten countries (Colombia, France, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) since September now looks like this:

28 Helmets
40 Shoulder Pads

643 Jerseys
542 Pants

117 NFL Game Socks
3 Face Masks

3 Mouth Pieces
1 Agility Ladder

We've been busy.

We are now down to having only 101 pants left in our garage to ship out to the next teams in need.

Did I mention that we shipped 36 jerseys and 36 pants to the Bucharest Titans in Romania?

As a "Thank You" the President
of the Titans, Marin Mihai, sent
me this 2022 Bucharest Titans jerseys

It was personalized!

The Titans also sent me personalized jerseys to pass along to the two local high school coaches who donated the Titans new jerseys and pants.

What a kind gesture! Go Titans GO!

On a cultural side note, the Hilbert Museum of California Art located on the Chapman University campus in Orange County is proudly displaying the whimsical work of Bradford Salamon. 

Their advertisement for the Museum's exhibit has just one image from Salamon's work . . .

It was a "You had me at hello" moment

One interprets art and I interpreted this painting as an In-N-Out double-double animal style.

Now, if that isn't art, I don't know what is!

I was actually on my way to Orange County on Friday.

It was time for the annual
Frank Glazier Football Clinic
in Costa Mesa

The Glazier Clinic is actually a series of clinics being held in 24 different cities throughout the country this year in February and early March.

They have become the #1 clinics in the country due to their in depth, three day formats that each weekend include over 100 different one hour talks on just about every topic you can think of related to American football.

A special Thank You to Buena H.S. Head Coach Ryan Bolland for including me on his Staff Membership to the clinic thus allowing me to attend for free. I was the Bulldog's Analytics Coach last season so I am actually part of their staff.

Part of getting older is, hopefully, getting wiser. Thus, even though the Glazier Clinic was scheduled for three days, I knew that I didn't have the stamina for it. Thus I perused the clinic schedule and decided that Friday was the one day offering the best topics for my interests.

The clinic didn't start until 1:30 p.m. on Friday but I decided to leave the house early given the uncertainty of Friday traffic from Camarillo to Costa Mesa.

I was relatively lucky and made the trip in two hours. I was about three hours early for the first clinic session and I realized that I was hungry (surprise).

I got on the Yelp app and found a highly recommended spot for breakfast less that a mile from the Orange County Hilton Hotel, the site of the Glazier Clinic.

I definitely needed to Carbohydrate Overload before facing the rigors of the clinic talks.

The Rooster Cafe's breakfast burrito
was a GOOD one!

A hearty Two Thumbs Up for this nice little hidden gem in Costa Mesa.

I arrived at the Hilton Hotel, still quite early for the first session but it made the registration process quick and easy.

These halls outside the meeting rooms
would soon be packed with coaches
looking at the items vendors had to sell

Before leaving the house, Laurie had said that she was sure that I would have fun seeing some of my old coaching friends at the clinic.

My first thought was who my age was both still upright and crazy enough to still be coaching?

Well, Mark Cunningham for one
as it turned out

Mark ran the Delaware Wing-T when he was the successful Head Coach at University H.S. in Irvine. He currently is the DB Coach at Corona Del Mar H.S. in Newport Beach.

I also chatted with another old Delaware Wing-T chum George Pascoe who ran the beloved offense as the Head Coach at Huntington Beach H.S. He is now the Offensive Line Coach at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

At dinner I would run into Bill Coan who I knew from his days as Head Coach at Chatsworth H.S. He is now the Head Coach at Arleta H.S. in Los Angeles.

Bill and I shared dinner with the El Camino Real H.S. staff that included another old hand, Rick Hayashida. Formerly the Head Coach of the then Conquistadores, he is now an assistant coach with the now much more politically correct Royals of El Camino Real H.S.

Thank You to current El Camino Real H.S. Head Coach Jason Sabolic for picking up the dinner tab for all of us!

About the clinic itself, I had two areas of interest, Offensive Line play and the ever critical Special Teams.

Jim Harding
University of Utah
Offensive Line Coach

Coach Harding gave us three great hours chock full of valuable insights and information.

Coach Harding's three topics were
"O-Line 6-Man Dropback Protection"
"O-Line Outside Zone Fundamentals"
"O-Line Individual Drills"


Years ago, I attended a similar mega-clinic somewhere and in the post dinner hours attended a talk on Special Teams just as I would tonight.

On that occasion, the coach looked out at the sparse crowd, smiled and proudly proclaimed, "Now we'll find out who the real football coaches are!"

All these years later, the same could still be said of tonight's two Special Teams sessions with Kenwick Thompson on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 

I bring this up because I cannot begin to say how many games we have won over the many years on two continents because of our belief in the importance of the Kicking Game and thus the amount of time that we have dedicated to this all-important but often under appreciated part of the game.

A big Thank You for starting my career long Special Teams emphasis goes to Joe Howell, the former Head Coach at Thousand Oaks H.S., who in 1972 elevated me from an assistant J.V. coach to the Varsity Kicking Game coordinator position. It has paid massive dividends over the many years.

As for UNLV Coach Thompson, he spoke twice on Friday night. Just as with Coach Harding's talks in the afternoon, these sessions were also highly informative and included great drills. Thank goodness that only a few of us were in the room to both absorb Coach Thompson's innovative ideas and continue to hone our edge over future opponents who it comes to the Kicking Game.

Coach Thompson's two topics were:
"Special Teams Drills and Techniques, with an Emphasis on the Kickoff Team"
"Punt Protection and Drills"

If you recall from an earlier post, our friend Dario Viallet from Montpellier, France was in California with his family for a working vacation. Presenting custom made uniform items that his Ridge Sports company produces at the Glazier Clinic was the working part of his visit to the Golden State.

Elco = El Camino Real H.S.

These are the good looking uniforms that Dario has designed for Jason Sabolic's 2022 Royals, the defending L.A. City DII Champions.

I was the Analytics Coach for Elco last season, too.

I still like Conquistadors better than Royals.

Some samples of Dario's work

The Rio Rico jersey on the right really caught my eye.

Rio Rico H.S. is located in Arizona near Nogales and the Mexican border. In 2022, the Hawks will have a new Head Coach, Jeff Scurran, who is a legend in Arizona high school coaching circles and also has several seasons of coaching EuroBall teams on his resumé.

He wanted new uniforms that would emphasize both a change in the football culture at Rio Rico (0-8 in 2021) and the Hispanic core culture of the community.

With Dario's help, they came up with these, in my opinion, AWESOME jerseys!

I REALLY love the Day of the Dead
art on the shoulders and the
inscription on the inside collar

Let's move on to some EuroBall news . . .

Spain's Serie A reached the
half way point this weekend

Our Mallorca Voltors had a tough
home game on Sunday against the
historically strong Badalona Dracs

A full slate of Serie A games
were set for the weekend


Four games down and four more games to go for all of the Serie A teams in the regular season.

Here is how the Serie A season shapes up at the mid-point with teams starting to separate in the standings.

Spanish Serie A
Eastern Conference Standings
Barberá Rookies 4-0
Badalona Dracs 3-1
Mallorca Voltors 1-3
Zaragoza Hurricanes 1-3
L'Hospitalet Pioners 1-3

Eastern Conference Results
Week #5 0n February 27, 2022
Dracs (3-1) 35 - Voltors (1-3) 13
Rookies (4-0) 48 - Hurricanes (1-3) 6
Pioners (1-3) - BYE

Eastern Conference Games
Week #6 on March 6, 2022
Hurricanes (1-3) at Voltors (1-3)
Pioners (1-3) at Dracs (3-1)
Rookies (4-0) - BYE

Spanish Serie A
Western Conference Standings
Osos Rivas 4-0
Murcia Cobras 2-2
Gijón Mariners 2-2
Las Rozas Black Demons 2-2
Fuengirola Potros 0-4

Western Conference Results
Week #5 0n February 26, 2022
Mariners (2-2) 19 - Cobras (2-2) 16
Black Demons (2-2) 48 - Potros (0-4) 13
Osos (4-0) - BYE

Western Conference Games
Week #6 on March 5-6, 2022
Black Demons (2-2) at Cobras (2-2)
Osos (4-0) at Mariners (2-2)
Potros (0-4) - BYE

While Spain is looking at the downhill side of their season, the leagues in Italy are about to start.

The Italian Federation has a total
of three divisions

Division I will feature, in theory, the nine best teams in Italy.

Division II has the next best 12 clubs playing 11-man football.

DI and DII will play their first 2022 games next weekend, March 5th and 6th.

DIII, or CIF9 as the Federation seems to call it, is made up of 36 clubs engaged in competing under the rules of 9-man American football.

The CIF9 season kicks off the weekend of March 12th and 13th.

I am most interested in DII play
as that is where our old club the
Varese Skorpions will compete

The Skorpions first game will be contested next Sunday, March 6th, in Varese.

The Redskins were 2-4 in 2021 DII play
and will be traveling to
Varese for the season opener

Verona finished in third place of five team DII Girone D last year. Girone is Italian for league.

In 2021 the Skorpions went 7-1 and
were the Girone B Champions

The Skorpions lost a tough one, 24-21, against the Modena Vipers in the 2021 DII Semi-Finals.

The Vipers would go on to defeat the Giaguari Torino 41-14 in the DII Finals thus promoting them to DI play this season.

There will be two other clubs in 2022's DII Girone B this year besides the Redskins and Skorpions.

These two additional teams are the Bergamo Lions and the Legnano Frogs.

In 2021, these two clubs competed in Girone B as well with the Lions finishing at 3-3, good for a tie for second place.

The Frogs were decidedly on the short end of things in 2021 as they limped through an 0-6 campaign while being outscored 202-30 in the six games. The Legnano team finished in fourth place in Girone B play.

Could this be the Year of the Skorpions?

Only time will tell about that but there is one thing that we were sure about.

It was Sunday, so we knew that we had one of Jacob's Spring season soccer games to attend.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day for
European football!

Light Blue vs. Light Blue Tie-Dye

It was a bit confusing at times.

Jacob is on the left.

Jacob chasing down the ball

Jacob on the loose

A lot of running around for our grandson is always a good thing.

Have a good week everybody!

Monday, February 21, 2022

Back to the Routine in Camarillo

Fri.-Mon., February 18-21, 2022

As soon as we awakened on Friday, we had two more orders from teams in Italy requesting more of the used jerseys and pants that local high schools had donated to help new, struggling teams overseas get rolling.

First up was an order for
Italy's Siena Lupi

The Lupi will soon be receiving the 32 jerseys and 30 pants as they need.

The Caserta Steel Bucks located
near Napoli were in need as well

Their wish was our command!

Another box to fill and ship, this time with 43 jerseys and 21 pants.

Since last September, Laurie and I have now shipped 601 jerseys and 454 pants to 20 teams in ten countries. That's a mind boggling 1,055 pieces of clothing!

Throw in the 28 helmets and 37 shoulder pads that we've also shipped and we both feel really good about what we are doing to help the game grow internationally.

Speaking of EuroBall, we had visitors from France meet us at Cronies Sports Grill in Camarillo for lunch on Friday.

Dario Viallet with his wife Marit
and their daughters

I first met Dario and Marit back in 2013 when I was coaching the Buon-Villeurbanne Falcons in France.

I had taken a day trip via train to south of France to see the lovely city of Montpellier.

At that time, Dario was the President of the Montpellier Hurricanes. We met for lunch that long ago day and both enjoyed talking about the game of American football at length.

Dario and his family were in California for a working vacation, driving from San Francisco to Costa Mesa for next weekend's Glazier Football Clinic.

No longer involved with the Hurricanes, Dario now owns a sports clothing company and will be displaying his wares at the clinic this coming weekend.

As I expected, we all had a good time at lunch catching up and talking about our families. Marit is originally from Holland, thus their two daughters, ages six and four, can speak French, Dutch and English.

Highly educated young ladies, to be sure.

On Saturday we traipsed our way to San Marino to have lunch with my Mother, my two sisters, our niece and her two youngsters.

It was good to all be together again.

We stopped in Burbank on the way
home for an early dinner and
lots of memories from our youth

Some news from the European League of Football . . .

The ELF continues to do a GREAT
job promoting themselves

The ELF released new Power Rankings even though the first games of the 2022 season are still three and a half months away. 

Though ranked Tenth in the
Power Rankings the Barcelona Dragons
are hard at work improving their roster

Sunday was soccer day for Grandson Jacob.

On the right, Jacob signaling
that he is ready for play

Jacob hustling to the ball

He had a good game today giving
great effort the entire contest

Back in Spain for Sunday
EuroBall action

This weekend was originally scheduled as a Bye Week for all Spanish Serie A teams but this game originally scheduled as a Week #3 contest had been postponed until this weekend.

The games this coming weekend will be the end of the first half of the eight game regular season.

After the Potros-Osos game, this is how Serie A stands after four complete rounds of games.

Spanish Serie A
Eastern Conference Standings
Barberá Rookies 3-0
Badalona Dracs 2-1
Mallorca Voltors 1-2
Zaragoza Hurricanes 1-2
L'Hospitalet Pioners 1-3

Eastern Conference Games
Week #5 on February 26-27, 2022
Dracs (2-1) at Voltors (1-2)
Rookies (3-0) at Hurricanes (1-2)
Pioners (1-3) - BYE

Spanish Serie A
Western Conference Standings
Osos Rivas 4-0
Murcia Cobras 2-1
Gijón Mariners 1-2
Las Rozas Black Demons 1-2
Fuengirola Potros 0-3

Week #5 on February 26-27, 2022
Mariners (1-2) at Cobras (2-1)
Potros (0-3) at Black Demons (1-2)
Osos (4-0) - BYE

And finally . . .

I can be a grumpy, vindictive
old man when I need to be