There was a festive mood in the air. Dozens of round white tables flanked with chairs filled the walkway from behind the corner of the administration building to the Camino Real area. A band played lively music from a platform set up adjacent to the San Gabriel building, and the scent of barbecue filled the air as a few hundred alumni talked and mingled.
This was the scene that met the eye at about 5 p.m. Sept. 3 on the Glendale Community College campus. Roughly 400 alumni, current students, and members of the GCC staff and administration gathered to witness the much-awaited opening and dedication of the Sartoris Field and the Andy Reid scoreboard and to watch the first football game ever to be held on campus.
The nearly $4-million renovation of the athletic field is a milestone in the history of the college, marking the first time a state-of-the-art sports facility was constructed on campus and paving the way for various sports games such as football, soccer, and track and field to finally be held on the grounds. The field is also available for rental to community groups and local organizations.
The opening ceremonies for the field had the feel of a weekend party. The food enjoyed by the 380 guests included burgers, fruit, salad and chocolate cake. A colorful mini-bar that served martinis was also set up by the Science Center.
The dedication kicked off with a speech by President Dr. John Davitt. He welcomed back all the visiting alumni and recognized the members of the Board of Trustees who were present as well as those who had organized the event.
Davitt also gave reasons why the athletic field was named after GCC’s current Director of Athletics and former coach of the GCC football team, Jim Sartoris, who has worked at GCC for almost 40 years now. “Today we honor Jim [because] he epitomizes what we hope for in GCC in the type of graduates we produce in this institution,” Davitt said. “He has exemplified dignity … and integrity.”
After Davitt’s speech, Anita Gabrielian, President of the Board of Trustees, went onstage to continue thanking the guests. She also remarked, “Sartoris is incredible, and we are so delighted that this is named after him.”
Gabrielian was followed by Tony Tartaglia, President of the Board of Directors of the GCC Foundation. In his speech, Tartaglia called for a moment of silence for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and afterwards announced that the college will be offering scholarships and funds to young people from Louisiana and Mississippi.
Tartaglia also told the story of how the renovation of the field was made possible, mentioning the Foundation’s athletic endowment fund that had raised $200,000.
Two former GCC football players, Jimmy Evangelides and Jeff Orlando, introduced Jim Sartoris. Orlando told the guests how Sartoris had encouraged him to “come to GCC and play football,” adding, “I have never regretted [anything] since that day.”
Jim Sartoris went onstage and was greeted with a standing ovation. He began his speech by enumerating GCC’s outstanding qualities, such as “great facilities, teachers and staff” and a “great family atmosphere.” He remarked that playing college football games on campus was a good way to get alumni to come back. “It’s a dream that has really come true tonight,” Sartoris said.
Sartoris also recognized two of his role models, Dr. John Davitt and Walter Smith, former Dean of Student Activities. He said that Davitt had shown him “the importance of treating everyone with respect and of having a family atmosphere,” and that Smith taught him how to treat his students well.
In the middle of Sartoris’s speech, there was a phone call from Andy Reid, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and former GCC football player under Sartoris, and donor of the new athletic scoreboard and track timing system. Sartoris thanked Reid and recognized his support.
Sartoris then continued thanking the guests, acknowledging former football players and members of his family in the audience. “It’s amazing what a group of people can accomplish and no one cares who gets the credit.”
The ceremony culminated with Davitt and former Athletic Director Rick Reinhart presenting a framed photograph of the new field to Sartoris.
Nick Sartoris, son of the Athletic Director, was present along with the rest of the Sartoris family and expressed delight in his father’s accomplishments. “I’ve never been prouder of anything or anyone in my entire life.”
After a quick raffle draw for a mini barbeque, the guests were encouraged to head down to the field to take a look at the wall dedicated to donors, painted with the athletic Hall of Fame mural, under the scoreboard before the football game started. Many donors and alumni expressed their pride in their alma mater after seeing the field.
Rick Gomez, one of the donors and a former GCC football player, said that as an alumnus, he felt that the field was a dream come true. “We’ve gone a long way … I feel honored to be giving back to the school and community … It’s here at [GCC] that I learned values to take in life … It’s a great, exciting feeling for the whole Vaquero family.”