It was no random act of kindness when a group of football players and coaches from James Logan High helped a stranger, a wheelchair-bound man, achieve his goal of reaching the summit of Grizzly Peak, just when he thought he’d failed.
Taking care of those in need is part of who they are, said Logan coach Ricky Rodriguez.
Still, Rodriguez was heartened to see the viral, feel-good video showing how the group went out of their way to help a man they encountered on their way up the steep trail in Fremont on a hot Saturday afternoon.
“I wasn’t surprised at all because I get an opportunity to see it every day with these guys,” Rodriguez said. “But, obviously with everything that’s going on around our country and our world it still amazes me that these kids can still go out and make a difference in our community.
“I was so impressed with my coaching staff and players. They don’t do it for the publicity but they just seem to find time to make our community a better place.”
Logan assistant coaches Cedric Lousi and Dante Pride were leading the group of hikers, including Laney freshman running back Chase Sims, a former Logan star, down from the summit when they encountered a hiker in a wheelchair on the rocky trail. The man, who said his name was Filipe, was desperately attempting to get to the top of Grizzly Peak with the help of two family members.
“He was close to the top but because of how steep and rocky it was, he couldn’t go any further,” said Lousi in a Twitter video post. “He had made it that far and asked if we were willing to help him make it all the way.
“So we walked down a bit then started the journey back up to the top. It wasn’t easy but to have Filipe say he made it to the top of Mission Peak was worth it.”
Once the group helped Filipe reach the top, they all posed for pictures while wearing giant smiles across their faces.
Me and another coach took some players up mission peak yesterday. On our way down from the top, we met this guy named Filipe and his family. He was so close to the top but because of how steep and rocky it was, he couldn’t go any further. He had made it that far and asked if pic.twitter.com/4Oocrx1xfS
— Cedric Lousi (@Cedric_Lousi) August 9, 2020
Lousi, a former San Jose State football player, and Pride, an ex-South Carolina State player, both work with special needs kids at Logan.
“Helping people with disabilities is part of their everyday lives,” said Rodriguez. “It’s just in their nature.”
Under Rodriguez’s leadership at Logan the past three years, the players and coaches have made their community a priority — from working to help families from low-income backgrounds to participating in social justice marches.
Laney coach John Beam, whose team has received nationwide interest since being featured on Netflix’s “Last Chance U” series, is proud of Sims, a standout running back who recently enrolled at Laney.
“It tells you the character he has, and the character all these young men have that people don’t always see, especially when they see certain skin tones,” Beam said. “I’ve taken my team to Hawaii and people came up to me and said ‘Your team was so well-behaved.’ I thanked them but then I thought to myself, ‘Why wouldn’t they be? Because it’s a team of 38 Black guys?’
“To see this (at Grizzly Peak) it shows you young people do have awareness of people around them and being helpful to others. We just have to honor it and respect it when we see it.”
Yesterday, a couple of my teammates and coaches went to mission peak . On the way down we saw a man in a wheelchair with his family . He congratulated us on making it up. Two of the younger members in his family made it to the top but do to his condition he originally thought (1) pic.twitter.com/PjL1jp7L9u
— Chase (@Chase_Sims5) August 9, 2020
Beam, though, admitted that he didn’t know what to think when one of his Laney assistants left him a cryptic message with few details about what happened on Grizzly Peak over the weekend.
“He only said we’d talk about what happened today in our Zoom meeting,” the long-time coach said during a Monday phone call. “As a coach, I’m like a parent when you get those kinds of phone calls. It’s kind of like your worst nightmare.
“But I’m so excited about this surprise.”
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Author: Jon Becker