I love sports - as a participant, as a coach, and as a spectator. Organized team sports started for me in 4th grade when I first played flag football through the local city recreation department. For 4th through 6th grade, the recreation department actually organized the teams from the four elementary schools in our area. So I had many of the same teammates in the park basketball league as well. In 5th grade, I felt like I hit the jackpot, with the flag football team winning the local league and the basketball team winning the city tournament against 11 other teams. That was also my first year in baseball. We had an independent little league program in our area and that season in my first year of baseball we won the league championship - and I batted 0.000 for the entire season, not one hit! But dominant in my mind was "We won!", soon followed by "I need to learn to hit better."
Through high school, I played in many sports - baseball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis, tennis, track, wrestling, and probably more. My favorite sport by far was football. After three years of flag football, I went on to play Pop Warner football (San Leandro Crusaders) before moving on to high school (Marina Titans). My freshman year I played fullback. in the August practices before my sophomore year, Bob Cardenas and I were in a tight competition for the starting running back position for the varsity team. At the end of two-a-day practices, the coaches came to me to tell me I was not old enough to play a varsity contact sport. You see, after only a few weeks of kindergarten I had been skipped to the first grade. So although I was a sophomore, I was the age of a freshman. So I ended up playing starting running back for the JV team and I attended the varsity games as part of the marching band. The following year, the preseason went much the same way. Although Bob had led the league in rushing the year before it still seemed to be a toss-up as to who was the better RB. So after our first preseason game, the head coach came to me and said he did not want to play with Bob or me on the bench. I was asked to move to fullback and quickly accepted. Bob was a wonderful person to compete with and the competition had made us both better. That year we went on to win the league championship. The next year the coaches came to me once again. They did not want to have an all-senior backfield, so I was asked to move to wide receiver. Of course and we had another strong season.
After high school, I went on to play WR at Menlo College (it played in a junior college league then). I was fortunate to arrive at the school at the same time as Bill Peters (QB) and Johnnie Green (WR). The team improved from 2-8 the year before our arrival to 4-5-1, and then 8-2. After not garnering any individual honors in high school football, I received two first team all-league awards and one honorable mention all-state award at Menlo. Coach Ray Solari also injected a new dimension in competition into our practices with his "Gold Card Club". Membership was optional, but if you quit, you were never getting back in. The club rules were simple, if you dropped a pass in practice you immediately ran one hundred yards of bear crawls. Sure, I probably dropped one or two passes in practice each year, but only once in two seasons did I touch a ball I did not catch in a game - 1 drop, 80 catches! And the one time I did drop a pass in the first half of a game, I came out and did my 100-yard bear crawl before the second half started. The other team was certainly surprised and confused. I thank Coach Solari for improving my concentration.
After my success as a WR at Menlo, I was recruited to a dozen major college football programs. Ultimately, I chose Cornell University because I did not plan on a professional football career and it seemed to provide the best balance of athletics and academics (and Cornell had an engineering department which many schools did not). To my surprise, and somewhat amusement, the Cornell coaches at the end of August practices came to me o ask me to move back to RB. This was to be the second team RB position as the coaches felt I was the best qualified for that role and they told me they, "did not expect to throw the ball too much anyway this year". That was an understatement! The first team RB was Joseph Holland. Joey, as I called him, went on to be second in the nation in rushing that year (behind Billy Sims). Joey also had tremendous character and I continue to admire him as a complete person, not just an athlete, today. He passed up professional football to go to Harvard Law School. After practicing law for some time he made a life change and went on to establish Harkhomes, a homeless shelter in Harlem. Now a minister and author, I strongly recommend you look into his inspirational books.
I was named first-team RB the following season, but my season was cut very short when I blew out my knee in a game against Colgate in only the second game of the season. That was the end of playing football for me. But it also started my business career off in an interesting direction. I later played goalie on Trilogy's indoor soccer team, on a championship softball team at Cadence, and carried a 200+ average on the Amateur Bowlers Tour. I play golf for fun and to get to better know business partners. To play golf competitively requires a time commitment I am not willing to make. Playing for fun means you don't take your score so seriously and have a good walk spoiled. I also became a youth ice hockey coach as my sons excelled in that sport. Today I am a passionate fan and season ticket member of the Oakland Raiders (Please don't move!).