By Katie Kandarian-Morris
Yesterday [Saturday] I attended the . My son is the Junior Varsity coach for , so for us, it was an away game. I pulled into the  parking lot, and bought my ticket.
There were hand-crafted signs posted at the entrance that gave notice that it was homecoming for the school. I made my way slowly to our visitor stands — I didn't want to head to the wrong one. Embarrassing.
Even those who don't attend high school football games may still remember, the away teams stands are always the smaller stands. They’re usually positioned on the uncomfortable side, the one facing into the sun. They’re not as well built, and seem to always look somewhat pathetic. It’s the first leg-up for the home team.
Surprisingly then, our “away” visitor stands were decorated with helium-filled balloons. Hundreds of them, made into twisted, braided frames that completely covered the railings of the visitor stands. They were in our team’s colors.
In front of our stands, there was a huge butcher-block sign painted with our school’s name and emblazoned with our team mascot. I looked around. There was no personnel here from our school. None of our leadership folks, nor our spirit squad. It had been done by this host school.
Never before (I’ve gone to a lot of games) have I visited a school and been welcomed this way. Students who were part of their leadership crew came into our stands and sold leis with Castro Valley colors. We were invited to take home the sign after the game.
When I left the stadium, I thanked one of the staff advisors for their gracious welcome. She responded, “Tell the community about us! San Lorenzo is a great place once you come to know us.”
And yes, it’s obvious this school lacks in funding. It sits right upside the freeway, there are no lights on their football field, and their football team has a losing record. But they taught me something big.
Hospitality is not a last minute decision. It takes planning, commitment, agreement and action by all involved.
Everyone at this school behaved with that same attitude. The behavior of the players, the attitude of the coaches, the folks working the snack bar, the custodian charged with picking up the trash and the students welcoming us over the loudspeaker showed genuine geniality.
Preparation and energy went into planning and carrying out their welcome. It was a mission they were living. I am filled with hope.