By Oscar Herrera, Columns/Opinion Editor
As one steps into the Eagle’s Nest, and he or she glances up onto the banners that hang high above the court, he or she will see multiple championship banners hanging. They hang proudly as a testament to Verb’s glory days: the days when Verbum Dei High School was a topic of conversation of basketball and football powerhouses. Nothing gives students school pride as the ability to state that their teams are CIF champions.
In recent years, Verbum Dei has lost the competitiveness it had in its glory days. This year the football team did not make the playoffs, and last year’s basketball team had a disappointing record.
Verb used to attract some of the nation’s top prospects in basketball and football. A winning team, and a winning school, attracts prospects because of their chance to be scouted. In the 70s, 90s and the early 2000s Verb would just win. Consequently, athletes were attracted to the school.
Verbum Dei was once the best high school basketball team out there. In the 1970’s, Verbum Dei basketball was at its peak.
“I’ve seen articles [about] former President Reagan, when he was governor of California, sending us a letter of congratulations for winning seven back-to-back CIF championships,” said Jeff Bonino Britsch, Vice President of Operations, whose tenure with VDHS dates back some time. “It was some impressive stuff back then.”
The statistics do not lie: Verbum Dei teams were CIF Champions in 1969-1974, 1994-1995, 1998-1999, and 2003-2004. Verbum Dei were also national champions from 1971-1974 During those years, the words Verbum Dei and champions were found in the same sentences.
Verb football also had its time of glory when the school were CIF Champions in 1981, 1982, and 2008. Verbum Dei also helped to produce Super Bowl winner, Akeem Ayers. During those days, Verbum Dei used to play other powerhouses like Junipero Serra High School in Gardena. The history of Verbum Dei has been rich, yet Verb has not won a championship since 2008.
Verbum Dei has strayed away from the path of creating teams that are powerhouses, said Bonino-Britsch. Now Verb has focused on creating scholars with multiple college acceptances rather than creating athletes, he added. With the shifting of priorities, new championship banners may be slow in coming.
“The problem was that we used to have guys who thought they were the stuff,” said Mr. Bonino. “They thought they didn’t have to really try.”