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Letter to the Editor: Unexpected Hospitality From High School Football Game Opponents

One reader shares her experience during the San Lorenzo High home game against Castro Valley High on Oct. 16.

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. 

Michael Lapacek October 17, 2011 at 05:52 PM
The San Lorenzo Cheer Squad girls were equally as warm and inviting! They came over to the Castro Valley visitor side and greeted the Castro Valley Cheer girls with decorated loli-pops, smiles, embaces and well wishes! Never have I witnessed such a greeting and genuine kindness from an opposing school. If only all schools shared that REAL school team SPIRIT! San Lorenzo High School was certainly the model for all schools to take notice. God Bless You San Lorenzo Cheer! Michael Lapacek - Cheer dad/Castro Valley High School
Analisa Harangozo (Editor) October 17, 2011 at 06:24 PM
Thanks for sharing, Michael. This all just puts a giant smile on my face =)
Tammy Castellanos October 17, 2011 at 06:58 PM
First thing that comes to my mind is WOW! Then i read on and i get tears of joy. I always had reservations about my children going to San Lorenzo high school. My daughter is turning 25 she went to Hillside when we moved her in the early 1990's then moved on to Edendale. She really expressed to me that she did not want to go to San Lorenzo High. So we sent her to San Leandro High. So now here comes my son Michael. He went to Hillside had a few same teachers as his sister Magen. Then came Edendale now he is a freshman. I had heard so many different stories, so I thought hmm MR REID would guide me in the right direction. I went to the school, met some teachers, heard from the Principal I WAS SOLD. I wouldn't have my son anywhere else. And this story solidifies it.
mloura October 18, 2011 at 09:50 PM
Great story. It makes me proud to be a Rebel alumni!
Claudia McDonagh October 19, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Extremely heartwarming!!! What an example to set. Go San Lorenzo High!!!!!!
mo brosnan October 20, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Many of us are already aware that San Lorenzo High School is the elite school in our village - interesting that it took an outsider to bring to it the attention is has always deserved. Go, Rebels! The hidden jewel of San Lorenzo USD!
Carol Heisler October 23, 2011 at 02:32 AM
As an alumni of SLZ and a staff member of 25 years, I am so happy is see that finally recognition has come to a school so well deserving.

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