The Casino del Sol banquet room Sunday featured youths in grades 2 through 8 listening intently to the wisdom of former Arizona baseball coach Andy Lopez, who used his own troublesome lifestyle as a youth to teach those in attendance the need to make right decisions.
Lopez was the keynote speaker of the Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation Scholar-Athlete Banquet. He spoke to a sold-out room of more than 650 including the young football players and cheerleaders and their parents and families along with coaches, administrators and volunteers.
The scholar-athletes were recognized along with the organization’s sponsors, the newest TYFSF Hall of Fame inductee, the TYFSF Volunteer of the Year, All-Star team coach Clarence “Bam” McRae and the presidents of the various leagues. Outgoing president Julius Holt, part of the TYFSF program since 1984 when he started as a volunteer, gave an emotional farewell speech to the crowd.
Lopez’s keynote speech lasted about 25 minutes. Those minutes can become some of the more meaningful minutes of these young people’s lives if they pay heed to what he said. The speech touched on his wayward life when he was 14 to 16 ditching class, smoking pot, drinking alcohol and keeping that behavior from his Spanish-speaking parents when he was living in the Los Angeles area.
He went from that background to graduating from UCLA and winning two national championships as a coach, including with Arizona in 2012. He won seven conference titles as a coach at Pepperdine, Florida and Arizona. He was also national coach of the year three times. After undergoing open-heart surgery, Lopez announced his retirement at 61 in 2015. He remains a commentator for Pac-12 games with the Pac-12 Network.
Lopez discussed the “10-80-10” barometer for how people make something out of their lives through their decisions, including himself:
In my interview with Lopez, he touched on his past and how that impacted him to become a highly accomplished coach and contributing member of society:
Holt commented on what it has meant to have an impact on youths as the president of the TYFSF.
Holt offered this farewell to the crowd. His time with the TYFSF will be completed with the end of the upcoming playoffs.
PHOTOS (All by Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)
The list of scholars recognized during the ceremony:
TYFSF Hall of Fame Inductee Sally Palanco, a longtime volunteer with the organization:
Kirby Bollnow, a local high school football referee for last 12 years, was honored as the TYFSF Volunteer of the Year
Mirum Washington-White was honored with a TYFSF Hall of Fame induction for his long-standing work with the organization.
The Second Grade Scholars
The Third Grade Scholars
The Fourth Grade Scholars
The Fifth Grade Scholars
The Sixth Grade Scholars
The Seventh Grade Scholars
The Eighth Grade Scholars
Inspiration Award Winners
8th Grade Essay Selections
8th Grade Essay Winners
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.