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SOUTH GATE AZTECS YOUTH FOOTBALL & CHEER

THE HISTORY OF SGYF


WE HAVE A LOT TO BE GRATEFUL FOR!  We have helped guide a generation of youth in South Gate through the sport of youth football: flag/tackle and cheerleading for 32 seasons (1990-2021)! 32 years of planning, preparing, service and dedication by hundreds of adult-volunteers as board members and coaches in an almost year-round sport activity! 

But to know us, you would need to know our history and how we began this journey of youth football and cheerleading...

See the pages of our last Anniversary Yearbook (2014):

ANNIVERSARY YEARBOOK PART 1 of 4

ANNIVERSARY YEARBOOK PART 2 OF 4

ANNIVERSARY YEARBOOK PART 3 OF 4

ANNIVERSARY YEARBOOK PART 4 OF 4






IN THE BEGINNING...
Youth Football & Cheer has been a part of South Gate since the mid-1950's! 

1955-1980
:
South Gate Pop Warner was a program of youth football & cheerleading that lasted for about 20 years which began in 1960 and ending in 1980. Even then, we were called the South Gate Rams, but the General Manager of the program was a local sports equipment vendor and a big fan of the Raiders, so our colors were "silver & black!" 

1989-1990: South Gate Mayor, HENRY C. GONZALEZ, decided it was time to bring back youth football & cheerleading in the city. He gathered family and friends, altogether about eight (8) of us in 1989 to plan for a return of South Gate Youth Football & Cheer. It was not easy! Legal paperwork had to be filed to make the program a non-profit corporation of the state and federal government to obtain the appropriate ID numbers. Then, we had to look for a football conference to join and we found OCJAAF which fit our goals and objectives as a youth sport program. We made our first meeting with OCJAAF in March of 1990 and we were approved for membership, but on a one (1) year probation. For those of us who committed to the program we had to promise to be there for the first 2-years in order to see it become a reality---time and commitment from family & home life. We struggled with finances to pay for uniforms and equipment, everything was brand new! We fundraised constantly, everything from candy to Slim Jim's (meat sticks) to whatever else we could sell for a profit. We carried well over $50,000 in uniform and equipment debt for 3-years to get the program going. We charged less than $50 per playe
r/cheerleader in registration fees. Cheer uniforms were handsewn and poms were old inventory handed down from the high school. We were fortunate to have the support of then SGHS Head Football Coach, GARY CORDRAY, who welcomed us onto campus and at Hurd Field---we shared our home there from 1990-2016, 27 years!

So, our inaugural season kicked off in July of 1990!
With 3-football teams, our history began....were we ready?    

1990-2008
: We were once again the Rams of South Gate!
We initially started off "old
 school" utilizing the SGHS Fighting Ram Logo and of course adopted the symbol of Ram Pride...the 'SG' helmet logo (we had to agree that we wouldn't sell the SG helmet logo because that was something players had to earn, especially at the high school level). It was later, as our program grew that we updated our logo to be the same as the Los Angeles Rams, but in a "red & black" version.  We even later adopted the Ram Horns, like the professional LA Rams....

THESE WERE THE RAM YEARS...

2009-2018 "THE YEARS OF STRUGGLE! For 19-years we were called the Rams and worked cohesively with the head coach of SGHS. In 2007, for reasons we could no longer control; a temporary principal (Pat Moretta) assigned at SGHS kept pushing us out and without understanding our history or why we were called the Rams?; combined with the fact there would soon be 3-high schools in South Gate; we made a decision to change our identity. WE BECAME THE AZTECS IN 2009! Becoming the Aztecs was truly representative of our community and we were able to retain our colors with the exception of white...including white would make us look more like a Ram than an Aztec, and that was important because the temporary principal continued to do everything within his power to make our existence go away! We survived this principal and although we tried to work with his demands, these years were difficult to say the least. Since Coach Cordray retired in early 2000, we had seen many head coaches come through the high school which we maintained a good working relationship and our coordinated efforts in football. Then a new head coach was assigned from Roosevelt, who took away all of the basic traditional elements of what it was to be a South Gate Ram and began to enforce helmet stickers and a football creed similar to that used at Roosevelt. To many of us and alumni it was difficult to watch. Although this coach had a successful few years at SGHS, he also put little effort or faith in utilizing homegrown South Gate athletes and brought in players not from our community. It was soon realized that this head coach wanted to "control us" on many levels and tell us who could coach and who could not. We had to assert ourselves by telling this head coach that we are a separate entity from the school program and that we had a board of directors we needed to report to and that mostly we could not allow him to dictate how this program was to be run. It soon became apparent that we were no longer friends to this head coach and eventually he was successful in getting us kicked out of SGHS abruptly at the end of 2016; where it was found that both he and then principal sent the district bogus emails of complaints about our program and the many lies as to how we lacked respect for the facilities at SGHS among many other lies about our personal conduct. The principal refused to meet with us and soon left his position to work at the district, then a couple more years this head coach left SGHS. After 27 years of operation we found ourselves homeless. In the interim, since 2017, it took us months to find a new home as the lies about us was well known by the other high school principals. They were very hesitant to accept us and held strict rules upon us while using their facilities for practices and games; we now practice at Legacy HS and all games are played at South East HS. It was also at this time, when we left OCJAAF, due to a substantial decline in chapter membership. We left to join Pop Warner in The Orange Empire Conference (OEC). This was a BIG change for us due to the fact that primarily the football matrix of weights were much lower that what we were used to. We lost over 50% of our existing registrants who were too heavy to make the new age & weight limitations. We struggled that first year in OEC to build teams. 

THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW...
2019: 
was a very difficult year due to our inability to secure a school permit through LAUSD. The rules had changed and we were ousted for reasons unknown. We had to look to the city to fight for us and although they were reluctant LAUSD finally did agree to issue us permit for games at South East HS, and limited practices at Legacy HS, which didn't start until after the start of our seaosn (September, 2019). The city through its parks and recreation department was unable to provide us adequate pre-season and in-season facility use, as we became a low priority. We suffered in our registrations and had to dismantled two (2) teams due to lack of rgeistrations and volunteer support. Financially it was a difficult year to get through with a heavy carry debt into 2020...

(2019 was also the year in which our California legislature was contemplating the eimination of youth football across the state. Many of us were sending correspondence to our elected state government officials. We were invited to partake in surveys and along with the help of USA Football, youth football was saved, BUT not without many restrictions moving forward. Read the new YOUTH FOOTBALL ACT of 2019 (AB-1) and how its new laws will impac youth football organizations moving forward). 

2020: the COVID-19 pandemic hit and eventually a quarantine was enforced for most 2020. We were unable to continue our operations and had to suspended our 2020 season of youth football and cheer, as did every youth sports program in the country. 

2021: a year of rebuilding, of bringing back youth football and cheer. We are still in a pandemic and new strains of Covid-19 were affecting not only adults but now children as well. We opened our pre-season with a training and conditioning academy, twice a week (Tuesdays & Thursday) from April through June. Kids were ready to get outside and start physical activity. Most of our returners had gained weight and we knew we needed to make a change in our football matrix, that which governed how we would recruit players to participate in an regular age & weighted program. We made a decision in early March to build our teams based on the unweighted concept and leave Pop Warner with the Orange Empire Conference because they would not recognize the weight gain of being inactive meant to our children which would have dismissed most of our players between the ages of 7-10; the weighted matrix for those youngers teams would have been impossible for a majority of our registrants. So we decided to leave and return to OCJAAF, even though this meant the possibility of less teams, but we were committed to making it work this new season. The goal was to get our teams back to playing games.

HOMELESSNESS CONTINUES. Once again we were denied permits to enter any of our local high schools so that we could continue to operate our program. We had to seek approval from the Parks & Recreation Department to allow us to assume operations at diamonds #9-#10 in the interim. Of course no home games were to be had, first primarily because of the second wave of the Delta Covid varient and the rules of the County of Los Angeles Covid protocol, but the park had no place for us to establish home games. We knew if we were to try and get back into a local high school we would need the support of our city council members. This would be the only way, with their support, to insist on a user agreement between the South Gate community and LAUSD. Although we tried to reach out to every member of the city council including our interim city manager, where we got ignored. We made plea upon plea through the city parks and recreation department to seek a resolution to our homelessness. We continue to receive "lip service" to our situation to this day. The parks solution was to send us to Hollydale park, a place with no lights and riddled with gopher holes, of course, any involvement there would need the approval of the South Gate AYSO Program. 

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