This is a great time of year for a sports lover like me. My two favorite sports, baseball and football, overlap. Little League has its World Series, MLB teams are fighting for the playoffs, and all the football leagues are getting started. This includes high school football season that starts tomorrow night.
Riddle me this: If you have a choice between walking 15 minutes across the street or driving two hours through LA traffic to go to a high school football game, which one would you pick? If you’re me, you hop in the car to watch your alma mater, Reseda Charter Regents.
What about the one across the street, El Toro? I went once with our daughter when she was young, and we were new to the area. I thought it would be fun for her to see the school she would go to (and eventually graduate from). She wasn’t interested in the game, but we happened to go on homecoming night. She was into princesses at the time, so she loved seeing the homecoming queen with her tiara and gown.
I didn’t go to El Toro games when our kids went there for the same reason my mom didn’t go to Reseda games. No teenager wants to be anywhere near their parents. It mortifies them. If you have to drive them somewhere, park as far away as possible, don’t make yourself conspicuous, and whatever you do, don’t talk to their friends (especially crushes).
But I may cross the street this season for a couple of reasons. The main reason is for Noah Aguilar. He was a kid who played in our Little League, and his dad was a coach. He went on to play football at El Toro and was a star player. Sadly, he was killed earlier this year. The team will be paying tribute to him this season. I won’t be able to attend his ceremony at Friday’s game, but I want to pay my respects. The best time will be September 22, when the school celebrates its 50th anniversary at the homecoming game. El Toro High School has been an important part of our community and our family’s life. It is worth commemorating.
I also plan to make a pilgrimage to Reseda this year. The team is young and rebuilding. Their coach Austyn Ward has been doing a great job teaching these kids the game. As an alumnus, I want to come out and show my support.
Reseda’s homecoming is October 6 with Van Nuys. (In Christina’s Portrait, a crucial scene takes place during a homecoming game versus Van Nuys. This better be just a coincidence!)
When I was in high school, football games were a chance to get together as a campus community, let off steam after a stressful week, and have fun with my friends. As an adult, I appreciate the dedication and hard work put in by the coaches and volunteers. I like to cheer on the kids who might never put on a helmet and pads after high school, but they still play their hearts out every game.
Kids like Noah Aguilar.
Because of him, Friday nights feel different this year. It’s not the score that matters. It’s the impact you make on others, including those who walk or drive to watch these kids play.