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Field of Hope
Photo courtesy of Sean M. Haffey / The San Diego Union-TribunePhilip Rivers talks football with San Pasqual Academy junior defensive lineman Marcos de la Sierra at Tuesday's ribbon-cutting.
SAN PASQUAL – Three years ago, Quentin and Alicia Jammer started a relationship with San Pasqual Academy with one goal in mind: to build lasting relationships with the foster children residing on campus. The Jammers not only achieved their goal, but with additional help from Philip Rivers and others, they helped the Academy achieve a goal of their own — a football field the students can call home.
“After being a part of this academy the past three years, I think I can honestly say we accomplished our goals and much more,” Alicia Jammer said on behalf of the Jammer Family Foundation. “It’s been a pleasure to have these students as a part of our lives. They teach us so many things that we take for granted. All we do is for the kids here. This field is a dream we all had and to be standing here is amazing.”
San Pasqual Academy opened 10 years ago as the nation’s first residential high school for foster children. The Dragons’ original field was destroyed during the 2007 wildfires. Following the fires, the team competing in an eight-man football division played on a temporary field. Their dominance eventually moved them up to the 11-man division. With the success, the Dragons learned the field was too small for CIF standards and they were unable to host home games.
“Up until 2008 as many of you know, the Dragons were able to play home games on what was a temporary field over behind the gym,” County Supervisor Ron Roberts said. “It was evident the students felt pride in hosting opposing teams on their own turf. The spirit and pride grew when the football team gained a significant victory early on becoming the California Interscholastic Federation Citrus League Champions. Since 2008, all of the football games have been played off campus, eliminating home-field advantage. Also lost was the true homecoming experience and the sense of community and camaraderie that the games brought to the students.”
The football field became a reality from the fundraising and support of the Jammer Family Foundation, Rivers of Hope Foundation, Chargers, NFL Youth Football Fund, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Supervisor Ron Roberts and San Pasqual Academy Foundation.
“The old field looked like an old horse track,” Quentin Jammer said during the NFL Grassroots announcement in 2010 when a $200,000 grant was awarded to the Academy. “I grew up playing all sports and believe all kids should not only get to play sports, but also be able to play on a level playing field. These kids deserve the same opportunities as others, like having a home-field advantage and school spirit.”
After developing a relationship with students at the Academy and dedicating himself to helping them with a new field, Jammer brought Rivers into the fold.
“It all started first with Quentin. Quentin had a relationship with San Pasqual and he wanted to help these kids by giving them a field they could call their own,” Rivers said. “I kind of jumped in and it’s been a joint effort. Many more people helped make this a reality and a dream come true. You look out here and there are orange groves and canyons and to have a football field out here is really something quite special. This project has been a true team effort. My wife Tiffany and I and the Rivers of Hope Foundation, are really honored to be a part of the team.
“I’ve played four years of college football and eight years in the NFL and I know Quentin will say they same thing … some of my greatest football memories are from high school. Enjoy this.”
Instead of a dirt lot, students will now show their school spirit with a first-class high school field, complete with artificial turf, a running track, bleachers and a new scoreboard.
“I know it’s special for all you kids when you can walk out on this field and call it your own. It’s always more special when we play at Qualcomm then when we go play anywhere else. I can tell you speaking of the quality of the field there wouldn’t be a field that Quentin and I travel to anywhere in the NFL that’s any better than this one here. This field is the best of the best,” Rivers said.
Rivers and his wife raised funds through the Rivers of Hope Foundation to help cover the final costs of the field and help add components like a scoreboard to ensure a state-of-the-art facility.
“Growing up a son of a high school football coach, football for me was a lot more than just a game. The games are fun but you learn more about life through football and those lessons you carry with you for life. The discipline, the sacrifice, the teamwork and fighting through adversity that’s what football is really all about,” Rivers said. “It’s more than a football field out here. It serves as a place where relationships are built. Games will be won and there will be hard times. All of the experiences are lessons. It’s about these kids. To no fault of their own, they haven’t had the childhood many of us had, but they deserve it.”