It’s that time of the year again, grab your blankets, put on your schools colors and make your way to East Los Angeles College this Friday for the 74th Annual East Los Angeles Classic. 74 freaking years !!!!! It astounds me that Roosevelt and Garfield have been going at it on the football field for that long. For seniors at both schools, this is THE GAME to win. Last year Garfield lost after beating the Rough Riders two years in a row. You can almost literally feel the electricity in the air from both the players and the fans.
74 th Annual East Los Angeles Classic
Friday, November 14, 2008
East Los Angeles College
Frosh/Soph Game: 4:00 PM – Varsity Game: 7:30 PM
$12 General Admission
$10 Presale to Students ONLY
Children Under 3 Free
Here’s some history straight from my alma-maters web site,
It has been said that this is the oldest and largest high school football rivalries west of the Mississippi and definitely in the state of California. Annual attendance reaches 20,000 spectators at East Los Angeles College. Visitors to the game often note that the evening takes on a life of its own. The evening is more than a football game. It is often seen as a family reunion spanning several generations. It is not unusual for spectators from both schools to attend to meet with old friends and family members.
The game, although important for the final score which gives bragging rights to the winning team for a year, offers everyone a chance to step back into the past, and relive some of their high school memories. This is afforded them because the rich traditions established over 84 years ago, have not changed. (You may note the discrepancy between a rivalry that spans 84 years and this is only the 74th meeting. Ten years were lost due to World War II where the game was not played)
What traditions? This is probably one of the only double homecoming events in the state, let alone the nation. King, Queen, Prince and Princess from each school are crowned during a ceremony that precedes the Varsity game. Everything counts on this evening. There is competition between the drum majors for the bands for their skill in tossing the baton. There is the battle of the marching bands, the drill teams, the dance teams, the cheerleaders, the leadership councils, and of course the mascots.
In the end, there are never any major incidents. This is what the community expects. Good clean competition that displays the best qualities of a group of people proud of their traditions and heritage. Because of the proximity of the two schools, many of the spectators and participants live next to each other. Many have even married which often makes the choice of where to sit, Garfield or Roosevelt, a matter for debate. Some families with multiple children have even chosen to sit on opposite sides with one child each. In the end we are one family, one community, with a very special event to help tie the generations together.
I’m going to be at the game doing my thing and taking pics from the sidelines. Till then enjoy the story I wrote about the Classic last year for the ELAC news paper. I may not be a sports writer, but there’s more than one way to milk a goat.
Circa East Los Angeles Campus News November 7, 2007
The Roosevelt High Rough Riders defeated the Garfield High Bulldogs 23 to 15 in the varsity game while the Garfield sophomores defeated the Roughriders 29 to 14 at the 73rd East Los Angeles Classic.
After losing the last two meetings to Garfield, Roosevelt football players and fans returned to Weingart Stadium ready for some payback.
With generations of family both young and old attending the historic match up, the rivalry between these two schools is as strong as ever.
A Roosevelt alumni, and one time coach for both schools, Al Padilla says the rivalries origins can be traced to inter-marriage between families, “You come to this game and the mother would be sitting on the Garfield side and the father would be sitting on the Roosevelt side while their kids are out in the field going at it,” said Padilla.
“Stevenson and Belvedere feed the schools. A lot of these kids went to the same junior high and then had to be split when they went on to high school.”
Former alumnae like Yolanda Ruisen, who was in Roosevelt’s graduating class of 1968, says she has two nephews playing for Garfield and that they always make fun of each other and poke fun all in good spirit.
However, when she was a cheerleader she recalls the bus being pummeled with bottles and rocks as they tried to enter or leave the stadium.
Fourteen district council member Jose Huizar was at the game as a fan but was also there to give scholarships to the top two academic students from both schools in the sum of $500.
Huizar has been giving away the scholarships for the last fours years,
“[The scholarships] are given to students showing promise to return to their community and give something back,” said Huizar.
Huizar himself has been coming to the games since a child supporting his older brothers and sisters who were either in the band or on the football team and said that while the rivalry remains as strong as ever, the violence has faded. “I remember coming as a young boy you’d see gang fights outside in the streets.
Thankfully this game has gotten to a level that’s showing on a competitive level our community and schools pride in a positive way.”
Luis Cortez who was a Roughrider senior in 2002 said that now that the classic has returned to ELAC after being moved from L.A. Coliseum, the fans and players become more involved in the game, “The intensity of the game brings it out of the [players] and the fans get into it,” said Cortez.
“You can hear more of the fans, it’s really close [compared to the coliseum]. I would have loved to play here as a senior.”
Before the game, Cortez gave players a pep talk about the game saying, “As long as you put your heart out on the field, you shouldn’t cry after win or lose.”
Janine Olmos who was a student at Garfield in1979 has a son, Juan Lopez played in this years game. She also remembers when the rivalry was far more heated than it is now, “ I was a freshmen with the band and as we were driving out, our buses were bombed with bottles and rocks,” said Olmos.
She said that she’s happy that rivalry isn’t as bad as it use to be.
She says that now she can, “Watch my son play and see him have a good time out there.”
The games significance goes beyond the rivalry as both schools crown their home coming kings and queens at the game. Bands, cheerleaders and the flag drill team also had a stake in the game.
During half time they all faced off dueling each other.
As one school would take the field the opposite side would fill the stadium with boos and heckling showing that the rivalry is as strong as ever.
However, it was all in good clean spirit as the community got together to see old friends again and to remember their past as a new generation of students make theirs.