Scripps Ranch High School head football coach Marlon Gardinera addresses his players last year. (photo by Ralph LoVuolo)
Head coach shares his perspective
A lot of things are up in the air right now for Scripps Ranch High School head football coach Marlon Gardinera.
Earlier in June, Gardinera didn’t know when he would be able to be on the field with his football team. They were supposed to already start summer conditioning.
The influence Gardinera has over his team was boundless until a global pandemic put a halt to his job and confined him to his home for lockdown.
“From a football perspective, we’re purely just in a waiting pattern which is awkward because this time of the year we’d be preparing for the next season,” Gardinera said.
The high school football team being in limbo during the pandemic is anything but what Gardinera and his team expected coming from a historic season last year. In one year, the coach took this team from one of the worst records in their division to a 12-1 record, and raised the team’s overall grade point average from 2.97 to 3.71. Gardinera is still trying to improve their grades during the pandemic.
“We have frequent zoom calls,” Gardinera said. “We bring the whole team together to check in, see how they’re doing … making sure they’re staying on top of grades.”
The California Interscholastic Federation was meeting to determine when it’s safe to coach again. But
Gardinera is still trying to protect his health since he is immunocompromised. Gardinera suffers from amyloidosis – it’s caused discomfort in his life and required him to get a liver transplant. This disorder makes him susceptible to severe symptoms from coronavirus. Gardinera recalled some time ago when the flu put him in a coma for eight days.
However, the coach takes it in stride and trusts that, in time, his team will have the same amount of time to practice as the other schools and be able to win games.
Perspective on the times
While waging a battle against an invisible event, Gardinera recognizes a more visible one is on center stage around the country: the Black Lives Matter protests.
He said the world is reacting to racial injustice and hopes violence, in terms of rioting and looting, will stop. But, Gardinera said the result of this will be something positive for the future as his sons enter adulthood.
“Something bad has to happen for me to get good change, and that’s a horrible dilemma,” Gardinera said.
Gardinera said that in raising his sons in a community like Scripps Ranch, he echoes experiences of racism so that they don’t have to experience the same thing.
The same energy he puts into his sons is personified with his team. On the football field, all the politics are left out the window. On Gardinera’s team, you care for one another and play, he said.
“There’s expectations of how they represent themselves, their family, our team and the community,” Gardinera said. “That has never included if the person is this color – we all take care of each other.”