Sunday, March 09, 2008


By Diana L. Chapman

Each year in San Pedro, eighth grade boys stream out of their junior highs on graduation day with big plans to try out for the high school football team.
The trouble with this: many of the students have never played the game.
My son is one of these kids and that lack of experience makes me nervous.
So when Jim True, who coached locally and now serves as the Boys and Girls Club branch director at the Cabrillo site, told me he planned to launch a football conditioning practice at Daniel’s Field – I knew this would be great news for many parents and students.
Any sixth through eighth graders can join as long as they go through Dana Middle School's Homework Club or otherwise join the Boys and Girls Club for liability reasons. The cost of the program is free.
Starting at 4 p.m. today (Monday, March 10), Jim – who held coaching jobs at Banning High School for eight years and at Harbor College for four years – plans to “get them physically fit,” no matter their lack of experience.
Much attention will be paid, however, to the 8th graders – who will have a separate training schedule to prepare them for the grueling high school try outs in less than four weeks. But that doesn't mean younger kids shouldn't join now. The sooner the coach gets them – the better.
“They just have so much to get in in such a short time,” he explained of the 8th graders, “and they’re not ready. They will do a lot of drills, a lot of running and getting into shape.”
Hallelujah! Thank you Mr. True.
To me, this is one of the great moments where an organization found a gap between schools and came up with a plan to fill it.
It also embraces the concept that the community at large needs to get behind its schools; residents can no longer expect school officials to do everything. On any given day, there are just not enough of them to baby sit, teach academics, behavior, values, social skills and the rest of the tools students need to survive – especially kids who have no support at home.
Since students involved in sports must have a C average, True and his crew will make each student go first to Dana Middle School's Homework Club and report with a pass in hand showing that they have concentrated on their homework first; Dodson students can do homework at the club site first.
Of late, Dana Middle School and the Boys and Girls Club have started to tie sport's programs to education as a way to help students maintain and improve their grades.
Dana’s Basketball Coach, Derrick Smith, who trains students daily at the campus had all his students enroll in the Boys and Girls Club’s College Bound program. That program currently trains students in exactly what high school courses they need to go to college and helps with all preparation from taking SATs to writing essays. All these actions fill gaps that are painfully large between students and our educational facilities.
If you have any ideas or suggestions how many other gaps can be filled, please email me at