More Than A Football Tournament

Sponsored by the NFL, The Global Junior Football Championships were held here in San Diego on January 22 and 25 to coincide with Super Bowl weekend.

All star high school teams from the USA, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Europe were here to compete in a round- robin American football tournament. Last fall Scripps Ranch was selected to host the 36 players from Team Europe in our homes for nine days.

This was more than a football tournament. It was a life experience for all of us involved here on the Ranch. They have no high school football in Europe. It is a club sport, and they only practice two times a week like our soccer kids–but they love it.

They came from small villages, big cities, and countries all over Europe. There was Rody Turpin from Paris, who could not speak a word of English. Daniel and Calle were from Sweden, Mike Friese and Richard Adiei (AJ) from Germany, Faruk from Austria, Almicar from the Netherlands, and Marvin Allen–the team’s MVP– from the United Kingdom. And, those were just a few of the players.

Colin Coffin was selected from Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS) as a linebacker for Team USA, the eventual world champion. Team Europe finished 4th and was coached by a top NFL Europe staff. They are tough football players and gave it everything for the couple of weeks they were together.

The following families welcomed Team Europe into our homes: the Buckleys, Coffins, Elys, Velvet Gardner and Hilton Holtkamp, the Hickocks, Lahres, Liebmans, Loronas, MacFarlanes, Mayvilles, Mendenhalls, Jaime Ott, the Petrys, Plummers, Cathy and Ralph Sassi, the Schults, Karen Sloan, the Sweeneys, and the Tilleys. This was Scripps Ranch at its finest. No one knew what to expect–a football team of high school-aged Europeans in our homes for a week!

I was privileged to witness a bonding between our Scripps Ranch families and these fine young men that few people ever experience. It went beyond a football game. We showed them a good time–a pep rally at SRHS, the beach, a Super Bowl party, the NFL experience, and tournament games.

Our families treated them as our own for nine days. I saw a moral fiber, character, and genuine love for these kids from our host families that demonstrates the backbone of the Ranch. This is the finest group of people living in an area anywhere, ever. They are real people.

The kids from Europe felt fortunate to be with us. We were equally lucky to experience their warmth, diverse cultures, and personalities. They were the best of the best football players in Europe and the best of the best people– young men who showed clearly their distinctive quality.

When we took them to school the last day before their return to Europe, there was not a dry eye on the kids or ourselves. They touched us in a way that transcends the nature of the event but breeds success in the game of football– they touched us emotionally. This was more than a game.

Congratulations and thanks Scripps Ranch. And to Team Europe, thanks for the memories. We will miss you and never forget one minute of your stay.

Ralph J. Sassi Jr., President, SRHS Football Boosters