Uni field and track dedication ceremony: Transcript
[Posted October 25, 2015] For the record, here’s a transcript of the remarks given at the October 22 dedication of the new Uni field and track, with many additional photographs courtesy of UHEF Co-President Ivan Finkle:
President, LAUSD Board of Education
Good afternoon, everybody.
I’ve got my Wildcat hat and I do so much appreciate being here, getting the chance to emcee this dedication. I want to add to what Lorena said: Thank you to our amazing students, Color Guard, Cheer, Band. Thank you so much for being out here and being part of this, but also you – together with our teams – make this field so special every week. This is really for you.
So thank you to our students. I also want to say a special thank you and we appreciate the alumni who are here today from various classes throughout the Uni proud tradition. Can we take our hats off and salute the Uni graduates, the Uni alumni: thank you for being here.
This is long overdue. For generations, Uni Wildcat athletes played on a field that didn’t match their athletic ability and really didn’t match what we want and what really should be right for all of our students in this District: to have state-of-the-art athletic facilities as we see now in our gym, as we see now here in our field and our track, as we’re going to see in our great partnership with the YMCA.
I’m very proud to say that with this dedication and with the projects that have been completed and are going to be completed, Uni High School is going to have the finest athletic facilities of any high school in this District. I’m very, very proud of that.
And I want to thank – this doesn’t happen magically – the project team from the Facilities Division, The Luckman Partnership, architects, and Ohno Construction.
Where we’re standing – for a lot of you, you know – this is the first time we’ve ever had a field like this at Uni. But this is also the first time with a regulation track: we’re actually going to be able to hold track meets here – home track meets – for the Uni Wildcats.
This is – again – state of the art. We’ve got everything that we have needed. But this was not a gift from LAUSD or even a gift from the voters. All of that was very important, but your administration, your parents, the advocates for Uni, the alumni, they fought for this. They fought for this hard. And they made sure, at every turn, that we were creating the best athletic facility anywhere in the District. So if you could, help me give a hand to Mr. [Uni Principal Eric] Davidson and your administration, who fought and fought for this to make sure it would happen and to make sure it would be the best.
I see the [football] team coming out here now that I’m going to play against in just a few minutes. We’re really proud of you and proud that we can open up this facility today. There is partnerships across the city, across the state that make sure that facilities improvements, academic improvements, school improvements, can be possible. So that we believe in public education not just in our words, but in our actions. So that we believe that schools like Uni get the best: not just in our words, but in our actions.
And so the next important guest that I want to introduce to you and bring up to this mike today is an LAUSD graduate – I won’t tell you which school – a lifelong supporter of public education throughout his career, but in the State Assembly, he is fighting for this District, fighting for funds for public education, fighting for environmental policies that move our District and our families and our City forward, fighting for justice on social-justice issues all the time, for you, for our families, for our communities, in the State Legislature, let me bring up and introduce to you our Assemblyman from the 50th Assembly District, the great Richard Bloom.
Member for the 50th District, California Assembly
Thank you, Board President Zimmer, and it’s great to be here and it’s great to see all of you young people, all you old people and all of you in-betweeners. It’s great to see everybody here.
This is a great day. It’s a beautiful afternoon here in Southern California, and these facilities are just terrific. They are going to serve you well.
Now, Mr. Zimmer mentioned that I graduated from another school. I’m actually here scouting the football team; I understand you’re playing Fairfax here tomorrow, right? So, I’m a Fairfax High graduate . . . Go Wildcats! Today, I’m rooting for you; tomorrow, we’ll see.
This artificial turf [field] is important for a lot of reasons. First of all, that big hole by the 30-yard line? It’s not there any more . . . smooth! You’re gong to have clear running. This is just going to be great for you to play on, when you get out there and have your practices and your games, you’re going to be able to play at a collegiate level, at a professional level, and feel that way. Its going to kick up your game. I’m absolutely certain of that.
But artificial turf is important for another reason. Something you don’t have to do to this, that you have to do to grass that’s really important right now in the middle of a drought: you don’t have to water it. It’s important for additional reasons: you know, you don’t have to re-seed it every couple of years. You don’t have to let it lie fallow [because of] all those holes when it gets muddy during rainy season. You can practice on this stuff; you don’t have to wait for the mud to go away. This is going to – whether it’s raining, whether it’s a beautiful day like this, whether it’s overcast – every day, this field is going to be out there waiting for you, to practice on it, to play on it, to do your best.
So, I’m really happy to be here and help you dedicate these great facilities. It’s great to see you all here today. I’ve got a Certificate of Recognition that I would like to present to Principal Davidson. It’s just recognizing University High School’s track and field grand opening 2015!
Board President Zimmer:
All the things that happen in a facility [happen for a reason]. You’ve got an amazing, classic, historic building here. We stand on sacred ground, in terms of the original history of our community here in Southern California. We now have amazing athletic facilities and all of the management of facilities happen through who I believe are the best experts in the nation, our Facilities Division. And representing our Facilities Division today, I want to introduce you to Mr. Bill Wheritt, the Deputy Director of the Facilities Division.
Deputy Director, LAUSD Facilities Division
Good afternoon, everybody. I’ll be brief today. I am here representing the Facilities Division, and I want to repeat the names of a couple of firms that were involved in the design and the building of both the track and the field here.
You have an amazing facility as everyone has said. It is state of the art: a regulation track that allows you to host the track meets and hold the regulation events here. The designer is not in the audience today, but I want to recognize The Luckman Partnership. We do have a representative of the general contractor that was actually out here and built the field, Ohno Construction . . . folks in the back there, thank you very much.
And I want to recognize our project team from here at LAUSD. We have the project manager sitting in the stands there, Don Tisdale – waive your hand – thank you. And the Regional Facilities Director, Aman Vaish, is with us as well.
So I just wanted to recognize that group of people who worked really hard to make all of this come together. And Board President Zimmer recognized a number of people and talked about how hard everyone fought for this. I want to also make the point that he himself was an active soldier in this battle. He made sure that this all came through. The original plans didn’t call for the materials that you see on the track here and both he and the Principal made sure that you got the most amazing facility, and one that will serve this community well into the future. So, that you to them as well, and enjoy the new facilities.
Board President Zimmer
They say, sometimes, that being on the Board is a hard job. I say, nothing compares to when I was on my Student Council in high school. So we have today a hard-working member of your [Associated Student Body], representative Ms. Rebecca Herrera.
Hold up, they got my notes wrong. They call me the President, but now I want to introduce you to your real President, Rebecca Herrera. You are the real president of this school.
President, Uni Associated Student Body
Good afternoon. As you guys know, I am Rebecca Herrera. I am your ASB President. I’d like to welcome you to our ribbon-cutting ceremony. I’m honored to represent the student body in this really exciting moment. We are genuinely grateful to receive such a wonderful gift that our student body as well as our future student body will benefit from.
Our Athletic Department now has one of the safest, state-of-the-art facilities in LAUSD. This field enhances the beauty and exclusiveness of our campus. Once again, we thank you for your generosity and support. Go Wildcats!
Board President Zimmer:
And now, I have the great honor of introducing to you your fearless advocate: Uni’s number one supporter. The man wears his Uni hat everywhere he goes . . . I don’t think the man ever takes it off. He fought for this relentlessly. He made sure that there were no compromises. He really brought each and every one of you, each and every member of this football team, each and every member of the band, the track and field team, every one of you . . . he brought you with him when he was fighting for this project, to make sure there was no compromise, that you got the absolute best. Not just for today, but for generations in the future.
He really deserves a huge round of applause. Let’s give it up for [Eric] Davidson, your principal and one of the best principals in LAUSD, Mr. Eric Davidson!
Principal, University High School
Hi, everybody! Everybody said a lot of words here, but I think that the thing that transcends all of the generations that have been here, from Warriors to Wildcats, from the Class of 1924 to the Class of 2016, has been the care that we have for each other at this school. And the care that the District has committed to make sure that we’re in a safe and state-of-the-art facility.
It goes without saying how much we thank the District, the Board President, Mr. Zimmer, the Facilities [Division], the alumni, our parents – who have mightily contributed to the success of the project – and I really wanted to also say a great thank-you to Ohno Construction. I’ve never had the privilege of working with a more professional construction group in the eight years I’ve been here. And in those eight years, I have had a construction project going on all the time, and I can say [for] a fact – and being very sure of it – that Ohno Construction has been the number one, best construction company we’ve had the privilege of working for [us], and they cared about our school just as much as we did. And I really want to appreciate them as well.
So, I want to thank everybody for being here. And let’s have a really good time tomorrow night [vs. Fairfax on Homecoming].
Board President Zimmer:
Thank you, Mr. Davidson. We have alums here today – Wildcats, Warriors, Wildcats – from the Class of 1944 all the way on up. And you are part, Wildcats, of an incredibly proud tradition in this city. This high school, this flagship high school, this amazing place of learning, has always been a place where public education thrives, where we value our diversity, and where we have pride, both in ourselves as individual students, but in the collective body we call University High School.
An it’s my pleasure to introduce Rich Perelman, Class of 1974, and a Board member from the Uni Hi Education Foundation. Rich, please come on up.
Class of 1974 and Board Member, Uni Hi Education Foundation
Ladies and gentlemen:
Thank you for coming out today to share the astonishment of this 1974 – yes, we’re still alive – Uni graduate, to see a football field that is green instead of brown, a track which is Rekortan red instead of dirt. Thanks especially to Board President Zimmer, for his efforts to make this miracle a reality, to Principal Davidson and to the Uni Hi Education Foundation and dozens of donors who wanted to honor Uni’s great history on this field by honoring two of the people who authored those achievements.
Back in 1925, in the first-ever yearbook issued for Warren G. Harding High School, principal Angus Cavanaugh – for whom this football field has named for decades – wrote to that inaugural class of students:
“The boys and girls here today are Pioneers in the westward growth of a great city and in the establishing of a new school.
“Its traditions are in the making. Yours is the opportunity for shaping them. It is not too much to hope that the boys and girls, here and to come, will carry on in the same fine way until character, service, and scholarship may become recognized as valued traditions of the Warren G. Harding High School.”
Now, what Cavanaugh knew, but couldn’t predict: those traditions were created on this field and on this track, at what is today known as University High School, because [of the] two groups of people who populate this area after 2 o’clock in the afternoon. We call then students and coaches.
And we’re going to honor one of each today. It’s altogether appropriate that University High School will recognize its greatest athlete and its greatest coach by naming the stadium and this new track in their honor.
Now, the student who is going to have the track named for him was one of two known Olympic medal winners from Uni – we’ve had two – both in track & field. One of them is here today, a member of the 1944 Los Angeles City championship team, a six-time All-American in the hurdles at UCLA and the Olympic bronze medalist in the 1948 Olympic Games in the 110-meter Hurdles, the great Craig Dixon.
Now, one of Craig’s teammates in London was the face of that 1948 Olympic team, and a Time Magazine coverboy. He was the world’s fastest human, the world-record holder in the 100-yard dash and won two Olympic gold medals in the 200 meters and the 400-meter relay. He set a Uni school record in the 100-yard dash of 9.8 seconds in 1942; that record was not surpassed for 32 years. His Uni record in the 220 [yards] – 21.5 – was not bettered for 34 years. For these achievements, and his humility, class and dedication to sharing his expertise as a coach, it’s an honor to confirm to you that henceforth, the new surface at University High School will be known as the Mel Patton Track.
Mel passed away in 2014, but I would be remiss not to recognize the stalwart work of one man who has tirelessly campaigned to recognize Mel’s contributions, and a recent biographer of Mel Patton, Larry Booth. And Larry is here with us today.
Our other honoree is a coach, and what a coach he was. Coming to Uni in 1960, his teams won eight All-City championships, 77 Western League team championships, 24 All-City and 252 Western League individual champions and 875 dual-meet victories in cross country and track & field. Much more important than that was the impact he had on thousands of young men and women whom he coached, mentored and encouraged to achieve their potential not just as athletes, but as people. And for that, it’s a privilege to confirm that this facility will henceforth be known as Richard Kampmann Stadium.
Now we’re not going to let Coach talk yet, because we don’t have enough time today. We’re have a lengthier event in the Spring, hopefully around one of Uni’s first home track & field meets in more than a decade, to celebrate the achievements of both tgese men, and to share more of the memories that they created with all of you and many more.
So I want to thank everyone for coming today, and thanks to Craig, to Larry on behalf of the Patton family, and most of all to Coach K, still going strong at the very young age of 90. Thank you so much.
Board President Zimmer
Thank you, Rich, and congratulations, Coach. We can’t wait to have [the] ceremony to honor your many achievements.
The comments concluded with the introduction of representatives from the offices of Los Angeles City Council Member Mike Bonin and California State Senator Ben Allen, and the awarding of a Certificate of Recognition from California State Senate and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
A ceremonial football toss was held on the field with Zimmer, Davidson and Uni football players Paul Davis and Eugene Ford, followed by the ribbon-cutting to officially dedicate the facility.
Wonderful news, but unfortunate that there was no mention of Jim Purcell, coach of Mel Patton, hugely successful coach of Unihi’s track team in the years immediately preceding Dick Kampmann, and a magnificent tutor of youth.
I concur with Chase’s remark. Jim Purcell coached the 1950 Western League Champion Track % Field team of which I was a member.
Ramon "Ray" Sanchez
I add my name with that of Ron. Chase, who I personally knew from 1955 to 1958 (He also set the 880 yard record). Jim Purcell was our track coach, but he was so much more. Mr. Purcell was a “life” coach. He touched my life very deeply. One of my friends, John Giba, matched Mel Patton’s 100 yard dash record (9.8), and was admired by Mr. Purcell because John reminded him of Mel Patton. I happen to be writing a book (which has already been published, but will be rewritten and, hopefully republished), in which I partially include in detail the history of Uni Hi, and which includes Mel Patton’s station within our proud history. I was fortunate to have been a Uni Hi “WARRIOR,” and as far as I’m concerned, Uni Hi will always be the home of the WARRIORS! However, naming the track field for Mel Patton is in keeping with the spirit of naming Jackie Robinson Field at UCLA for him. Because I had the opportunity to travel through Europe during my military service (USAF 1958-65) I proudly testify that there have never been in my life the quality of friendships like those at Uni Hi. I will always deeply respect and admire the “character” that many of our teachers inspired in us–especially Jim Purcell. I was/am blessed! After graduation, I even found where he lived so I could personally express my sincere admiration! Go Warriors!