Twelve varsity football players got in a van with their football gear and made the seven hour drive to Los Angeles after school one Friday to attend this year’s Nike SPARQ Combine on Feb. 27.
Juniors Tanner Johnson, Nico Andrada, Jeriah Crawley, Joseph Flores, Hayden Simpson, Jay Razzano, Brendan McMinn, Chad Stamas, Nick Martig, Trevor Glenn, Jackson Knapp and Josh Clark all went to down to LA for the event. Of the 12, only 11 participated; Clark could not compete due to a knee injury.
The SPARQ combine took place at the Veteran’s Memorial Stadium of Long Beach City College. The boys were amongst many other athletes who were also being tested in different aspects of athleticism. They competed in a timed 40 yard dash, a vertical jump, a timed 20 yard shuttle run and a power ball throw.
The boys’ individual scores for each event were then combined with their heights, weights and positions to make up their overall scores. Crawley, a safety, received the highest rating of the 11 that competed with a score of 87.12. The boys averaged a rating of about 55 which, according to Stamas, is pretty good.
Some of the boys, including Stamas, participated in the combine last year and had such a good experience that they decided to go back with more of their teammates this year and compete again.
“Last year we did it and honestly we did it to have fun,” Stamas said. “We had so much fun and we all did better than we thought we did. This year we were like ‘Let’s get as many people as we can in the van and go down to LA and have some fun.’”
According to McMinn, the event really tested the athletes and taught them a little bit about themselves as players while competing.
“It helps with the season because we know where we are at; who’s fast, who can run, who can jump, who can be an athlete,” McMinn said. “The specific thing I learned is I need to work harder to get better at what I need to do.”
Varsity football coach Larry Cunha is glad that the boys made the trip because they learned a lot in terms of what they need to work on for the upcoming season and were able to bond together.
“What it does for them is it allows them to gage their improvement over previous years so I think it gives them a baseline of where they’re at,” Cuhna said. “[My favorite part of them going] is the fact that so many of them went as a group; the team bonding part of it is the best part of it for us.”