By Tamajai Dampeer, Staff Writer
For many years, Verbum Dei athletics has been noticed throughout the neighboring areas of Watts, California. Whether this recognition came from athletic achievement or simply apparel similarity, Verb has made its mark in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) in the past years.
This past legacy has been brought faithfully to the near past as athletes continued to perform wearing jerseys that their own coaches may have won championships while wearing. Despite, the superstition of washing the luck from a jersey or even not wearing it, Verbum Dei’s athletics program decided that it was time for a wardrobe change for both football and baseball.
“We finally have our own identity and are able to create our own success,” said Jaden Brownlee, varsity team Captain.
As we all may well know, the pressure of not living up to a certain expectation can deteriorate one’s self-confidence. It may as well also affect an athlete’s, in specific, ability to perform to the best of his or her ability.
“I no longer feel tethered to alumni legacy,” said Brownlee.
“I feel liberated from the pressure of having to be just as good as the previous class or even a class 10 years ago,” said senior multi-sport athlete Adrian Villagomez.
Adrian recently had a chronic injury to his elbow caused by excessive throwing. This injury landed him in the operating theatre and later, in lengthy physical therapy.
“Whenever we had lost a game, I felt twice as bad because I felt as if we had let down an entire era while wearing their exact jersey,” said Villagomez. “At least this way if we lose, which we don’t plan on doing, we lose without the chip on our shoulders.”
Ironically, despite the big name Verb has made for itself within the CIF, Verbum Dei’s athletic program has never been plentiful in numbers.
“Hopefully, the new arrival of these jerseys will encourage the students to come out and join the team” said Kenneth Stevenson, Athletic Director. “And for those who are returning or wish to continue to play either sport, we want this to be seen as a token of gratitude and appreciation for the hard work they’ve invested in the program.”
Marquis Bowling, the newly-introduced Head Football Coach, also had a few words to share.
“[Being the new Head Coach], new uniforms are really symbolic of a new beginning for myself. I feel more comfortable within the school because not only have I been newly incorporated, new jerseys have been as well.”
Bowling derived from Cantwell High School, 329 N Garfield Ave, Montebello, CA, and mentioned how the transition has been both nerve-wracking as well as a blessing.
“I now have the power to create a bequest through the jerseys from a fresh starting point, instead of picking up where a previous coach left off, said Bowling.
“Honestly, it’s a blessing being able to send [the senior class] off with style at least,” said Jensen Fluellen, former Varsity Football Coach.
In recent years, the furthest, most successful run the varsity football team has made was in 2017, advancing into the second round of playoffs before losing to Godinez High School, 3002 Centennial Rd, Santa Ana, CA.
“We’ve been trying to get new jerseys for a while as you may know, [being a member as well as captain of the team] and even though it took us almost a full year to get them, we got them,” said Brownlee.
Fluellen, an active and well-appreciated hand in the athletics program, saw the “need for a new look” and tasked himself with fundraising as well as designing the new football jerseys. “You guys look good,” Fluellen has been noted as saying.