Possibly a trip of a lifetime, going to Los Angeles to play football, the Pahranagat Valley Panthers made a visit to the famed Rose Bowl.
Pahranagat Valley coach Ken Higbee and his staff, plus a few family and fans, took advantage of a trip to L.A. to play a non-league football game Sept. 6, and take the opportunity to do a little sightseeing, and even a jaunt in the ocean that weekend.
Pahranagat Valley has played two California teams in the past, but never one from inner city Los Angeles.
The school was Wallis Annenberg High. Wallis Annenberg is the daughter of Walter Annenberg, former Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Nixon. She is president of the Annenberg Foundation, a multi-billion dollar philanthropic organization in the United States.
Leaving on Thursday evening, the Alamo team traveled to Pasadena where they spent the night.
One does not go to L.A. without trying to catch some of the sights, if possible, and the Panther football team did the same.
Sporting their team jerseys, the group drove the team bus on Friday to Hollywood and spent time walking up and down famous Hollywood Boulevard, looking at the names on the Walk of Fame on both sides of the street. A group of kids in clean, blue and white football jerseys certainly drew a few looks of interest and questions from a few passers by.
Higbee explained the reason for doing the side trips was to give the kids experiences they might never have for many more years to come. “They may never again have the opportunity to come to some of the places they see on TV, and Hollywood is one of the most famous places in the world, so we wanted to give these kids not only a football experience, but also a life experience, and memories that will last for a lifetime. It’s as much as the experiences that we get as it is the hard work that we put in.”
The team also visited Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where many famous movie premiers have been held amidst the searchlights, red carpets, and adoring crowds; where movie stars have permanently put their names, handprints and footprints in concrete slabs in the entranceway.
The boys were particularly interested in finding John Wayne’s name. For although “the Duke” stood 6-4, he only wore a size 11 shoe, and the boys were eager to compare their shoe size to his.
Following the trek on Hollywood Boulevard, the team went into the mountains to Griffith Park, a beautiful 3,000-acre park and popular tourist attraction, also home to Griffith Observatory, which affords a commanding view above the city, that was fortunately only slightly dimmed by smog on a hot afternoon.
Inside the observatory, many of the Panther players were quite fascinated by the 40-foot, 240-pound Foucault pendulum which demonstrates how the earth does rotate.
Later Friday night was the game.
Saturday was dedicated to a trip to the famous Rose Bowl in Pasadena. In June 2013, the Rose Bowl Company began offering guided tours to the public of the facility.
The seven-site tour includes the UCLA locker room, post-game interview room and working press box, and walk around the inside of the stadium. It also introduces the stadium’s original 1922 locker room. The 420-square-foot room became a storage room about 40 years ago and has only recently been cleared out and re-decorated with sports memorabilia.
“It was good for the kids to see the Rose Bowl,” said Higbee. “It’s been a good bonding experience for all the players,” said senior Jamie Schofield. “A lot of history at the Rose Bowl.”
Then the team went down on the playing field and posed for pictures, then to the outside of the stadium for another team picture with the Rose Bowl sign in the background.
Following the tour, the team bus headed to the beach at Santa Monica for a few hours of fun in the surf on a beautiful, comfortable day before heading back to the high desert of the Pahranagat Valley.
For one fan, freshman Laetitia Ray, it was the first time she had ever seen the ocean in person. “It’s beautiful,” she said. “It makes me feel that anything is possible. It stretches on and on, like it’s never ending.”