The Mirror-Mar2021-ISSUE 3

TheVNHSMirror

The student-produced newspaper at Van Nuys High School in Los Angeles, California. Awarded the prestigious NSPA Pacemaker Award, the CSPA Silver Crown and 2021 1st place SCJEA Newspaper.

20 | MARCH 2021 | | A T H L E T I C S |

theMIRROR

By ANTONY NEPEYVODA

THE MIRROR STAFF

COACH RORO New Varsity

Football Coach Thomas Roosevelt

comes from rival Sylmar High.

Over the past five

He plans to take everything slow

years the football

at first as he tries to rebuild a

troubled Wolves football program.

team at Van Nuys

High School has

been bad.

Really bad.

Really, really bad.

The school isn’t very well

known for its football program.

Last year Coach Evan Porter

took the reins of the team during

what turned out to be his

first and his last season. Porter

found success as head coach

of varsity basketball, leading

the team to a Division Three

championship in 2017. Football

was a different story. Under his

watch the Wolves got walloped

by L.A. Manual Arts 72-0... then

Sylmar 42-0... then Panorama

37-0... then San Fernando 70-0…

then Reseda 49-0… and finally

the season was topped off with

a 54-0 loss to Canoga Park. The

team didn’t manage to win a

single game. It was one of the

worst-scoring seasons in the

school’s 100-plus-year history.

Even with ex-pro Mike

Williams, a wide receiver who

played for the Detroit Lions,

Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks

and Toronto Argonauts

leading the Wolves from 2016

to 2018, the story was the same.

Loss after loss. Season after

season. Things weren’t looking

good.

Then came covid-19 in

March 2020. All prep sports

ground to a halt. The 2020

football season was put on hiatus.

But behind the scenes the

head coach.

They lined up Thomas

“RoRo” Roosevelt, who has

coached the junior varsity

squad at Sylmar Charter High

School for eight years. For the

past three years, he’s been trying

to land the head coaching

job at Van Nuys. He finally got it.

Could he be the man to turn

the Wolves around?

The first four years I

coached offense. And then the

last two years, I coached everything

because I was the only

coach there on J.V.”

His first five years were filled

with winning records, though

sadly his last three ended with

many promising players leaving

the program due to racial and

violent tensions brewing on

campus and thus, losing seasons.

“Times were tough,” he said.

In his final three years as head

coach the Spartans finished 3-4,

3-4 and 2-5.

Coach Thomas grew up in

Pacoima in a gang-infested

neighborhood. He turned to

football as an escape. He began

playing when he was eightyears-old.

He started coaching

younger kids when he was

13. Coach Thomas has been

playing football since he was a

young boy, it helped serve as an

escape from the gang infested

area he lived in and didn’t

want to be a part of. He started

for eight year old children.

Football is a lot more than

just a sport to him. “I love football.

Everything I do is about

football. I wake up in the morning

thinking about football. I go

to sleep at night thinking about

football.” Coaching high schoolers

and building better athletes

is his ultimate goal.

Thanks to the pandemic

many student athletes will be

rusty once they make their

return to the field, so Coach

Thomas doesn’t want to put

any undue pressure on the

team. He has yet to see what

they are capable of, but reassures

diehard fans that he has

a plan.

“First off, it’s all about the

conditioning. Second, it’s going

to let me know which players

wanna be here. If you’re

lacking [effort], it’s gonna show

me you don’t want to play,” he

explained.

Before being allowed to go

to practice, which resumed on

March 17, players have to file

pages of paperwork such as

a liability advisory, publicity

authorization release and student

emergency information

forms. They also have to take

weekly covid tests. “It’s a very

long process that we have to go

through,” stated Thomas.

one of the responsibilities of

being a coach is being a teacher

to the athletes. His philosophy

is that a coach has a set of rules

they must follow to achieve

success — not just in football,

but in life too. His mantra is

what he calls the “five Ps.”

Proper preparation prevents

poor performance.

“So far he is giving me good

vibes” said Sophomore Quaterback

Uriel Rios. “He seems like a

really good person to talk to. He

is working really hard to get this

team in shape, which I really

appreciate.”

The new head coach only

wants the best for his team

and hopes that they play to

the best of their abilities. “I

don’t care whether we win or

lose. As long as we execute

the plan, my players will get

better with every single game.

They’ll take what they did here

and move on to the next level

with it.”

So maybe soon, under new

management, with the “five Ps”

mindset instilled in them, the

Varsity Wolves football team will

go from bad to better. At least

that’s Coach Thomas’s plan.

It isn’t breaking news that

the Wolves football team is still

far from great. Perhaps 2021 is

the year they bounce back.

The good thing about hitting

rock bottom is that there is

school was searching for a new coaching at the young age of 13 Coach Thomas believes that nowhere to go but up.

THE NEW

COACH

ROOSEVELT INSET: COURTESY | THOMAS ROOSEVELT; ILLUSTRATION: SHUTTERSTOCK | VISUAL GENERATION

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