By Kyle Wylie, Coordinator of School Support Services
So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
On Bakersfield’s east side, off of Mount Vernon and the 58, lies an industrial complex in which tractor trailers and other material are sold. One of the buildings is Traffic Management Incorporated and to the common observer, it looks like an everyday blue collar industrial shop. As you enter the building and go through a couple of doors, you quickly come to a vast garage in which equipment and all terrain vehicles are stored in order to support the business. Along the south end of the garage there is a set of stairs that lead up to a hallway that includes administrative offices for the company.
However, at the end of the hallway there is a room that is special to Kern County. The room at the end of the hallway has been set aside for the Foothill High School Hall of Fame. You see, Traffic Management Incorporated used to be Flashco and Lewis Barricade and was run by Rusty Lewis who graduated from Foothill in 1977 where he served as the center and long snapper for the football team. Lewis along with long-time Foothill Head Coach Ned Permenter set up a room in order to store all of Coach Permenter’s stuff and keep the memory of Foothill football alive.
To say Coach Permenter is a hoarder is an understatement. “This room is filled with just Foothill stuff. I have a cabin that is filled with all of the game film that has been traded over the years from other coaches and schools,” states Coach Permenter. The room has boxes and boxes of Foothill game film dating back to 1962 when they played in their first game against Kern Valley High School. In a glass case, sits a football helmet from that same 1962 season that was donated from BHS to be used for Foothill’s lower levels as well as the football from the first game in 1962 with score of the game. Posters from over the years decorate the walls that include such Foothill greats as Joey Porter and Rashan Shehee. A “weight room in a box”, a set of walkie talkies, and the original Foothill Trojan’s 1962 Playbook and Rules are further objects that add to the special nature of this room.
The Foothill Hall of Fame room with it's boxes and boxes of film along with a helmet and football from 1962.
“Ex players are always asking for game film and I try to help them as best as I can. I pretty much will help anyone that wants any game film over the years. This is a great way for me to keep in contact with my players and get to know people from other schools,” states Permenter, who has remained in contact with a lot of former players. Recently, Permenter was able to galvanize some former Foothill players to serve lunch to the current team. Vic Diaz (Class of 1993) Jim Wooster (Class of 1970) Jerry Alarcon (Class of 1993) John Alexander (Class of 1967) and Mike Maggard (Class of 1974) showed up on a Friday to serve the current Foothill Trojans led by Dan Ingle (Class of 2004). All former players spoke and the redundant theme was how important it was to be part of the Foothill Trojan program and that there were a lot of people all over the country that would be keeping track of how they were doing this year. For Coach Permenter and these former players, Foothill High School is a place of loyalty, commitment, and deep meaning.
Left to Right, Foothill High School Trojans
Vic Diaz (Class of 1993) Jim Wooster (Class of 1970) Jerry Alarcon (Class of 1993)
John Alexander (Class of 1967) and Mike Maggard (Class of 1974)
Back in the Foothill Hall of Fame room, there is an object that really stands out to me. It may not be glamorous to the everyday observe, but it struck a chord with me. It’s a white piece paper that is slightly crinkled and a coffee stain is imprinted in the upper left hand corner. On the document, six people are drawn in a caricature fashion, with odd features, signifying symbols, and each people has a name tag. From left to right the names are: Eliades, Rowe, Briggs, Permenter, Shannon, and Lafond. Those in Kern County know these legendary football coaches and the school that they coached. At North it was Jordan “Turk” Eliades. At West it was Bert Rowe. At Bakersfield High School it was Paul Briggs. At Foothill High School Ned Permenter. At East Bakersfield High School it was Hollis Shannon. At South High School, it was Larry Lafond. This drawing was paying tribute to Coach Permenter who, at the time, was the only remaining coach amongst the legends to still be coaching.
Kern High School District Legendary Football Coaches
Jordan "Turk" Eliades (North), Bert Rowe (West), Paul Briggs (BHS)
Ned Permenter (Foothill), Hollis Shannon (East), and Larry Lafond (South)
As I looked at this picture, I immediately starting thinking about the legacies that each one of these men created for their respective schools. I only imagined what other schools took pride in just like Coach Permenter takes pride in Foothill. It was at that moment in which I realized that high school sports matter in Kern County. I could give you my insight, but honestly my thoughts don’t hold clout compared to those that have left a mark on the Kern County athletic landscape.
With the thought of the importance of high school athletics resonating in my mind, I decided to simply ask, “Why are high school athletics important?” to a number of people and the responses were impressive.
Kevin McCarthy, House of Representatives Majority Leader, Bakersfield High School Graduate (1983)
- Playing high school football made one thing clear to me: sports are about more than a game. High school athletics offer invaluable lessons that are not always taught in the classroom. Perseverance, teamwork, and responding to moments of adversity are character traits that you will need throughout your lives. To this day, I call on the lessons I learned on the field when facing difficult moments. But for me, it was also the friendships I created that stick with me today. At the end of each tough practice, heartbreaking loss, or thrilling victory, you will forge a bond that is hard to break. That is a bond that I still cherish today.
Bryon Schaefer, Superintendent, KHSD
- High School athletics are more than just playing a “game’; it’s an opportunity for students to be involved in school, feel connected and empowered. High School sports teach our students the value of discipline, work ethic, and what it means to work collaboratively to achieve a goal.
Erica McCall, Forward, Indiana Fever, Ridgeview High School Graduate
- High school sports are important for several reasons, it gets kids active which is especially important in a nation where obesity is a large issue. It also keeps teens out of trouble. For some it may be harder to stay out of troubling situations so for them sports is a great way for them to stay away from this type of situations. Additionally sports teaches skills that are needed in the real world. Skills like discipline, hard work, teamwork, and leadership can all be used for success in the classroom and future jobs.
Mike Martin, Head Basketball Coach, Ridgeview High School
- I feel high sports are amazing and it teaches responsibility and builds character. Being involved high school sports helps kids work for better grades and teaches them the competitive edge that it takes in the work place.
Stan Green, Director of School Support Services, KHSD
- High School athletics are an important part of a student’s high school career for many reasons. Many people point to the academics and attendance benefits of which there are many. For me high school athletics are important because they allow a student to be a part of something bigger than themselves. High schools sports are much larger than just a ball, a racket or a club; they are an important part of a student’s foundation for success. They allow a student to learn about being a leader, a good community member, a friend, a coworker a good husband or wife; they build the foundation for establishing and forming the grit of an individual. High school sports form memories of cooperation and teamwork; they establish a baseline for overcoming obstacles in your life and provide hurdles as measuring sticks of progress. As you age you reflect on these special times in your life and what they have taught you. To this day I find myself reflecting on those experiences; sometimes it’s a smell in the air or something someone says but they stir a memory in me that was in an integral part of who I am and where I came from. Every student should experience being a part of something that is bigger than themselves like athletics, a school club or a school program; it provides them an opportunity to grow and have amazing experiences they will cherish the rest of their lives.
Paul Golla, Head Football Coach, Bakersfield High School:
- In high school what saved me was having tough football coaches that helped me channel my toughness and discipline in way that could help me overcome any obstacle that came my way. I coach because the process is more than just football - it’s an extension of family, promotes hard work, discipline, and teaches young men to be good men. I never talk about winning with my team, we channel all of our energy and our conversations to talking about the process to being successful as players and as men.
Stan Davis, Head Boys Basketball Coach, Independence High School
- I coach for the same reason I teach; to make a difference. It’s the most gratifying feeling to know that you are helping kids figure things out. Sports; especially team sports teaches the value of sacrifice, leadership and had work.
Gina Flores, Head Girls Soccer Coach, South High School
- I believe high school sports are very important for many different reasons. I understand it may not be for everyone but for others it's what gets them through high school. I've seen a good number of kids succeed in school mainly because they played a sport. They knew they needed to keep good grades in order to play a sport. For some kids playing a sport in high school gives them a sense of belonging. It is a great way for kids to meet friends. Some of the kids I've coached being on a team is actually their family. They didn't have a good situation at home and by being on our soccer team it gave them sisters and a support system. I have also had the misfortune of witnessing players lose family members during season. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for those players if they didn’t have the team to turn to. Even us as coaches and teachers can only do so much to empathize and support the players through their loss, but it’s the fellowship of their teammates that really gets them through what will probably be one of the worst days and experiences of their lives. They truly survive and thrive because of each other. Without high school sports how could these players learn accountability, perseverance, self-sacrifice and perseverance? The team is what helps build each player’s foundation that will have to be strong enough to take on the waves of life outside of soccer and school.
Maria Collatz, Head Volleyball Coach, Stockdale High School
- Character building - to take a group of athletes that all live in a certain area and pull them together and have them work toward a common goal is irreplaceable. You are not paying money and get to pick an all star team - you take who lives there and create pride in your community to represent your school. A high school sporting event has an energy that no other sporting event can replace. Even in college,students choose what school to attend. In high school you play at the school where you live and and compete to represent them to the best of your ability. The memories and camaraderie built amongst your teammates, coaches, and fellow students is unique to your high school years. From the ages of freshman to senior years there is such a maturity difference yet all the athletes have to work to together. The pride built as a high school team is strong and unique.
Johnitta Hodge, Head Volleyball Coach, East Bakersfield High School
- Athletic excellence requires hard work. Athletes are trained mental toughness as well as athletic skills. Athletes are trained to manage their emotional level during practice and in matches and learn skills such as controlling breathing and on maintaining focus during stress situations. Working successfully with teammates, coaches, officials and even opponents requires effective communication. Sports provide continuous and diverse situations for athletes to develop and practice this skill. These skills transcend into daily life, including school and in other important relationships and interactions.
Greg Kerr, Sports Director, KBAK Channel 29/Fox 58/HomeTown Sports
- In the times we live in, high school supports are extremely important. High school sports can be the one place where young people can pull on the same rope and pull together. Teammates are teammates and high school sports allow for our youth to get close with someone who doesn’t look like them and fight for a common struggle. High school sports teaches people how to get along while fostering a bond that is tough to break. I am still close with my high school football teammate today. High school sports gives confidence to students and individuals allowing for them to flourish and come out of their shells.
Stephen Hicks, Sports Director, 23 ABC News
- I think high school athletics are important because they teach our young people the importance of community, work ethic other valuable life lessons along the way. Few things can replicate being a part of something bigger than yourself and having to work hard to reach a common goal. Not to mention it's in a fun environment!