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Hoover High kicks out Pop Warner

Neighbors don't like tailgate parties

It’s Saturday morning, August 29. A crowd has gathered at Crawford High School’s football stadium for the San Diego Youth Football League’s season opener. On the field, the Olympian Saints from eastern Chula Vista take on a central San Diego team, the Balboa Raiders.

Even with a lopsided lead in his team’s favor, Balboa Raiders head coach Richard Trisby paces the sideline between every snap. He scans his seven-, eight-, and nine-year-old players, looking to give some direction.

In the bleachers behind Trisby sit parents and spectators, most decked out in Raider silver and black. An announcer delivers play-by-play action over a public-address system, and fans cheer after every play. To the left of the bleachers, a long line forms at a narrow concession-stand window.

Outside the stadium fence, parking is scarce. Vehicles cram the sidewalks. Young players shuffle in full pads down the hills that flank the field. Dozens of parents huddle in the shade provided by a large RV, and several teenaged boys stand outside the gate, indifferent to their surroundings.

For the hundreds of parents, players, and family members at the game, this field is unfamiliar territory. It is the first time in 12 years that a Raiders’ home game has not been played at Hoover High School, on El Cajon Boulevard in Talmadge. It’s the first game since Dr. Chuck Podhorsky, Hoover’s principal, informed the league last February that the 240 kids, aged 5 to 15, were no longer welcome at Hoover, that the Raiders had to find new home turf.

“Crawford welcomed us with open arms, but our home is at Hoover,” Coach Trisby says during a time-out, his voice raspy and weak from yelling.

In head-football-coach form, Trisby barks out why the Raiders prefer Hoover. The field is better; most kids will attend Hoover, not Crawford; it’s more practical — 70 percent of the families live closer to Hoover; and it’s closer to their practice field at Monroe Clark Middle School.

“The school turned their back on us,” adds Trisby. “They didn’t care about the kids. All they care about are the neighbors and the lights.”

In November 2008, at a sparsely attended community meeting, school board officials unveiled plans for a major renovation project at Hoover. In addition to a two-story classroom building and a new “green” woodshop building, the 80-year-old high school’s athletic facilities would get a face-lift: a new softball field, new bleachers, concession stands, press box, locker rooms, and four light towers — 90 and 100 feet tall, bearing a total of sixty 1500-watt metal halide bulbs to shine on Hoover’s football field.

The plan was not well received. Not only did residents take issue with the project’s design, which placed the entrance to the field within 20 feet of homes, they were dead set against night games.

For years, their frustration with the school had been growing. Daytime sporting events at Hoover turned their residential streets into a venue for tailgate parties, where illegal drug use, public intoxication, loud noise, litter, and traffic were rampant. Throw in criticism over inadequate security and cleanup after the events, and tensions between the Talmadge neighborhood and Hoover High School began to increase.

Anxiety spread through the community like the hush of a crowd during a visiting team’s last-minute comeback drive. Residents worried about what would occur in their neighborhood under cover of darkness. And they feared that after the lights were in, nothing would stop the school from renting the field to outside leagues for extra revenue.

Neighbors say teams from outside leagues, such as the Raiders, were the worst guests. On 12 Saturdays a year, Raider families would hang out on residents’ lawns, park in their driveways, barbecue outside their homes, and blast loud music throughout the day.

In their opposition to the lights, some community members used Balboa Raider game days as an example. They put together a website and persuaded the local planning committee to draft letters to state, city, and school board officials. Soon after, all school board and community meetings became an outlet for their grievances.

Their perseverance paid off when Podhorsky agreed in February to eject the Raiders from Hoover’s field. “I made a commitment to not host Pop Warner football leagues,” confirms the fourth-year principal during a recent interview, his cheery, upbeat tone turning remorseful. “I still have restless nights thinking that we eliminated Pop Warner. It’s kind of like eliminating your local baseball field.”

Following Podhorsky’s decision, then–San Diego Unified superintendent Terry Grier, apparently responding to Councilmember Todd Gloria’s concerns, sent a letter to Gloria’s office last April outlining the agreements made between the residents and school district. In the letter, Grier says the field’s entrance will be moved to the front of the school, nighttime events will be limited to 15 per year, increased security will be provided during stadium events, and the field “will not be rented out for non-school uses such as adult soccer leagues.”

The school now appeared willing to work with the neighbors. Communication between Podhorsky and community members improved.

And then came a July 22 soccer game between a Hoover alumni team and a semiprofessional soccer team from Tijuana. The game brought a sold-out crowd to Hoover’s football stadium, as well as loud music, air horns, litter, and public drinking to neighborhood streets. Talmadge residents felt blindsided.

“They started tailgating at about three o’clock in the afternoon, and it lasted until about nine at night,” says a Talmadge resident. “There was no security. They had music blasting, umbrellas, coolers, barbecues. It was like Qualcomm on game day.”

“It was completely out of control. We weren’t given any notice,” adds Tina Indalecio, who lives near the northwest corner of the field. “One of my neighbors came out to find out what was going on, and she came up to a guy standing near the fence, and he was peeing.

“Over here,” Indalecio says, pointing to two parking spots 15 feet from her garage, “a couple of minivans were parked here until about nine at night, having a full-on barbecue. They had a couple of hibachi grills and were grilling out, drinking beer, and listening to music. When they left, empty Tecate cans were everywhere on the street.”

As Indalecio continues to describe the event, neighbor Steve Tripp interrupts. “Parking is my issue,” says Tripp, who lives down the street on Monroe. “If you’re having an event with this much seating, any other organization would have to provide adequate parking.”

“Yeah, and just imagine what will happen when the lights go up,” shouts another neighbor.

For them, the event is evidence of the school’s dirty tactics.

“Sure, they put together this nice letter, making these promises, anything to get the neighbors to quiet down, which they have,” adds Indalecio. “They’ve tried everything they could to not talk about the lights, but when this event happened, it all came back up.”

In an August 20 interview in his office, Principal Podhorsky apologizes for the event. “Trust me, I’m working very hard at balancing the needs of our kids with the needs of our community. I want to be a good neighbor.”

Sitting next to Podhorsky is San Diego Unified spokesperson Cynthia Reed-Porter. Podhorsky chooses his words carefully, stopping a number of times before continuing. “It was just an oversight. It was a summer activity. But we’re working on addressing that break in communication.” He plans to improve communication by distributing a schedule of sporting events to the community and posting each event on both the school’s and the Kensington/Talmadge planning committee’s websites at least one week ahead of time.

As for security during school events, Podhorsky is surprised to hear about tailgate parties and alcohol consumption during the July soccer match and is quick to say that he had 34 people working security that day. “It’s something we’re going to have to look at,” he says. “Traditionally, a high school wouldn’t patrol out into the community, but we want to provide adequate support.”

Asked to comment on the assurances laid out in Superintendent Grier’s letter, Reed-Porter says, “I can’t speak for Dr. Grier, and I’m not sure what that letter intended to be. It was a letter from Dr. Grier to Todd Gloria, one person sending information to another person. I don’t see that it was intended for the entire community.”

However, in a later email, Reed-Porter writes, “I have confirmed that the ‘15 night games’ is the assumption used in the Mitigated Negative Declaration [environmental report]…consistent with the letter from Dr. Grier to Todd Gloria. Also I confirmed with Principal Podhorsky that the school will limit the number of night games to 15.”

As the community awaits the October release of the environmental report, which must be accepted before the lights can be installed, and as Podhorsky attempts to mend his relationship with the community, so far the only real losers have been the Balboa Raiders.

Back on Crawford High School’s football field, on the hot late-August morning, Coach Trisby feels as though the Raiders were the scapegoat. “Look around you,” he says, sounding as though he’s trying to convince a referee of an errant call. “These are just kids. There isn’t a bunch of people drinking — they are cheering on their kids.

“Bottom line: the school wanted lights, and a group of neighbors got together and amplified the problem. We were never the real problem. They used us as a pawn to get the lights. All for a couple of night games a year.”

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It’s Saturday morning, August 29. A crowd has gathered at Crawford High School’s football stadium for the San Diego Youth Football League’s season opener. On the field, the Olympian Saints from eastern Chula Vista take on a central San Diego team, the Balboa Raiders.

Even with a lopsided lead in his team’s favor, Balboa Raiders head coach Richard Trisby paces the sideline between every snap. He scans his seven-, eight-, and nine-year-old players, looking to give some direction.

In the bleachers behind Trisby sit parents and spectators, most decked out in Raider silver and black. An announcer delivers play-by-play action over a public-address system, and fans cheer after every play. To the left of the bleachers, a long line forms at a narrow concession-stand window.

Outside the stadium fence, parking is scarce. Vehicles cram the sidewalks. Young players shuffle in full pads down the hills that flank the field. Dozens of parents huddle in the shade provided by a large RV, and several teenaged boys stand outside the gate, indifferent to their surroundings.

For the hundreds of parents, players, and family members at the game, this field is unfamiliar territory. It is the first time in 12 years that a Raiders’ home game has not been played at Hoover High School, on El Cajon Boulevard in Talmadge. It’s the first game since Dr. Chuck Podhorsky, Hoover’s principal, informed the league last February that the 240 kids, aged 5 to 15, were no longer welcome at Hoover, that the Raiders had to find new home turf.

“Crawford welcomed us with open arms, but our home is at Hoover,” Coach Trisby says during a time-out, his voice raspy and weak from yelling.

In head-football-coach form, Trisby barks out why the Raiders prefer Hoover. The field is better; most kids will attend Hoover, not Crawford; it’s more practical — 70 percent of the families live closer to Hoover; and it’s closer to their practice field at Monroe Clark Middle School.

“The school turned their back on us,” adds Trisby. “They didn’t care about the kids. All they care about are the neighbors and the lights.”

In November 2008, at a sparsely attended community meeting, school board officials unveiled plans for a major renovation project at Hoover. In addition to a two-story classroom building and a new “green” woodshop building, the 80-year-old high school’s athletic facilities would get a face-lift: a new softball field, new bleachers, concession stands, press box, locker rooms, and four light towers — 90 and 100 feet tall, bearing a total of sixty 1500-watt metal halide bulbs to shine on Hoover’s football field.

The plan was not well received. Not only did residents take issue with the project’s design, which placed the entrance to the field within 20 feet of homes, they were dead set against night games.

For years, their frustration with the school had been growing. Daytime sporting events at Hoover turned their residential streets into a venue for tailgate parties, where illegal drug use, public intoxication, loud noise, litter, and traffic were rampant. Throw in criticism over inadequate security and cleanup after the events, and tensions between the Talmadge neighborhood and Hoover High School began to increase.

Anxiety spread through the community like the hush of a crowd during a visiting team’s last-minute comeback drive. Residents worried about what would occur in their neighborhood under cover of darkness. And they feared that after the lights were in, nothing would stop the school from renting the field to outside leagues for extra revenue.

Neighbors say teams from outside leagues, such as the Raiders, were the worst guests. On 12 Saturdays a year, Raider families would hang out on residents’ lawns, park in their driveways, barbecue outside their homes, and blast loud music throughout the day.

In their opposition to the lights, some community members used Balboa Raider game days as an example. They put together a website and persuaded the local planning committee to draft letters to state, city, and school board officials. Soon after, all school board and community meetings became an outlet for their grievances.

Their perseverance paid off when Podhorsky agreed in February to eject the Raiders from Hoover’s field. “I made a commitment to not host Pop Warner football leagues,” confirms the fourth-year principal during a recent interview, his cheery, upbeat tone turning remorseful. “I still have restless nights thinking that we eliminated Pop Warner. It’s kind of like eliminating your local baseball field.”

Following Podhorsky’s decision, then–San Diego Unified superintendent Terry Grier, apparently responding to Councilmember Todd Gloria’s concerns, sent a letter to Gloria’s office last April outlining the agreements made between the residents and school district. In the letter, Grier says the field’s entrance will be moved to the front of the school, nighttime events will be limited to 15 per year, increased security will be provided during stadium events, and the field “will not be rented out for non-school uses such as adult soccer leagues.”

The school now appeared willing to work with the neighbors. Communication between Podhorsky and community members improved.

And then came a July 22 soccer game between a Hoover alumni team and a semiprofessional soccer team from Tijuana. The game brought a sold-out crowd to Hoover’s football stadium, as well as loud music, air horns, litter, and public drinking to neighborhood streets. Talmadge residents felt blindsided.

“They started tailgating at about three o’clock in the afternoon, and it lasted until about nine at night,” says a Talmadge resident. “There was no security. They had music blasting, umbrellas, coolers, barbecues. It was like Qualcomm on game day.”

“It was completely out of control. We weren’t given any notice,” adds Tina Indalecio, who lives near the northwest corner of the field. “One of my neighbors came out to find out what was going on, and she came up to a guy standing near the fence, and he was peeing.

“Over here,” Indalecio says, pointing to two parking spots 15 feet from her garage, “a couple of minivans were parked here until about nine at night, having a full-on barbecue. They had a couple of hibachi grills and were grilling out, drinking beer, and listening to music. When they left, empty Tecate cans were everywhere on the street.”

As Indalecio continues to describe the event, neighbor Steve Tripp interrupts. “Parking is my issue,” says Tripp, who lives down the street on Monroe. “If you’re having an event with this much seating, any other organization would have to provide adequate parking.”

“Yeah, and just imagine what will happen when the lights go up,” shouts another neighbor.

For them, the event is evidence of the school’s dirty tactics.

“Sure, they put together this nice letter, making these promises, anything to get the neighbors to quiet down, which they have,” adds Indalecio. “They’ve tried everything they could to not talk about the lights, but when this event happened, it all came back up.”

In an August 20 interview in his office, Principal Podhorsky apologizes for the event. “Trust me, I’m working very hard at balancing the needs of our kids with the needs of our community. I want to be a good neighbor.”

Sitting next to Podhorsky is San Diego Unified spokesperson Cynthia Reed-Porter. Podhorsky chooses his words carefully, stopping a number of times before continuing. “It was just an oversight. It was a summer activity. But we’re working on addressing that break in communication.” He plans to improve communication by distributing a schedule of sporting events to the community and posting each event on both the school’s and the Kensington/Talmadge planning committee’s websites at least one week ahead of time.

As for security during school events, Podhorsky is surprised to hear about tailgate parties and alcohol consumption during the July soccer match and is quick to say that he had 34 people working security that day. “It’s something we’re going to have to look at,” he says. “Traditionally, a high school wouldn’t patrol out into the community, but we want to provide adequate support.”

Asked to comment on the assurances laid out in Superintendent Grier’s letter, Reed-Porter says, “I can’t speak for Dr. Grier, and I’m not sure what that letter intended to be. It was a letter from Dr. Grier to Todd Gloria, one person sending information to another person. I don’t see that it was intended for the entire community.”

However, in a later email, Reed-Porter writes, “I have confirmed that the ‘15 night games’ is the assumption used in the Mitigated Negative Declaration [environmental report]…consistent with the letter from Dr. Grier to Todd Gloria. Also I confirmed with Principal Podhorsky that the school will limit the number of night games to 15.”

As the community awaits the October release of the environmental report, which must be accepted before the lights can be installed, and as Podhorsky attempts to mend his relationship with the community, so far the only real losers have been the Balboa Raiders.

Back on Crawford High School’s football field, on the hot late-August morning, Coach Trisby feels as though the Raiders were the scapegoat. “Look around you,” he says, sounding as though he’s trying to convince a referee of an errant call. “These are just kids. There isn’t a bunch of people drinking — they are cheering on their kids.

“Bottom line: the school wanted lights, and a group of neighbors got together and amplified the problem. We were never the real problem. They used us as a pawn to get the lights. All for a couple of night games a year.”

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Comments
2

Wow !!! I thought The Reader was a better source of journalism than this. This article was like reading a Tabloid newspaper. Perhaps, they will cover the “Two Headed Elvis” that exists on the Hoover campus next.

Reader Editors - Please make an attempt to cover a story that does not contain so many factual errors. It’s bad for your reputation!!!

Oct. 3, 2009

I love you Tris, but you've got to tell the truth. Everything said about Balboa Pop Warner is true. Just check in with SDPD about how whenever Balboa, VP and Skyline play your games make the morning watch command announcements.

How many facilities do you need to be chased from?

Don't make Hoover out to be the devil. Remember San Diego High?

What's sick about this article is the majority of your players and coaches don't even live near Hoover.

Oct. 7, 2009

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