Friday, Jun. 29, 2012
Rotary boss' 'Green' thumb benefits players
By Shawn Jansen / Small beginnings
Green never thought the game would get this big when he started it.
Green was an assistant principal and assistant coach at Avenal High in 1984.
There was a player on that team named Carlo McCeleb, who wasn't selected for all-star games played in Fresno or Tulare.
"Carlo could have played for anybody," Green said. "He did everything for us. When he wasn't picked, I went to our rotary club and suggested that we start a small-school game for kids who get overlooked."
The first year, Green says he had about 13 schools represented for each team.
The game followed Green to Chowchilla when he became principal in 1985, and its popularity has grown as more and more schools asked to be included.
This year players were chosen from 52 schools. Two more schools will likely be added next year.
The game has also featured future NFL players Bernard Berrian (Atwater), Cameron Worrell (Chowchilla) and Logan Mankins (Mariposa), with each rising to football's highest peak -- the Super Bowl.
"The thing I'm most proud of is the support we've received from all the rotary clubs and the amount of scholarships we've given out," Green said. "We've had kids who have gone on to become pharmacists, doctors, attorneys and businessmen. They've gone on to do good things and they've said that money helped them."
Green will hand out $14,000 worth of scholarships Friday and has generated $157,000 in scholarship money since the game started.
"The game is a big part of his life," said Golden Valley coach Dennis Stubbs, who has helped Green oversee practices. "He takes a little bit of time after the game is over and then he's right back at it, trying to get things lined up and sponsors for the next one.
"He wants the game to succeed and it's a big reason it's been a success all these years."
It was Stubbs who suggested changing the format so that Central Section schools would play the Sac-Joaquin Section players.
While coaching and overseeing North practices he noticed with Chowchilla and Dos Palos, being Central Section teams, the players weren't as familiar with the other players from the North.
"The game is not about me," Green said. "This game is for the kids. It's an opportunity for the kids to play one last game before they go off to college or go to work."