I would like to thank Tracy High School varsity football coach Mark Stroup for hosting Friday’s reunion for the 1982 and 1987 section championship teams. Since Tracy’s population is 81,000 versus 23,000 in mid- and late 1980s, many people probably don’t realize the effect Tracy High football had on the youth of this town.
We played Pop Warner football with the Tracy Raiders on Sundays, dreaming of the day when we could call ourselves “Bulldogs” and wear the green and gold. You might have seen us behind the end zone playing football during the sophomore games on Friday nights. I also wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps (Class of ’46) and play for the mighty, mighty Bulldogs. Why? Because there is tradition.
Coach Wayne Schneider honored this tradition and built champions. By himself? No. Tracy had great coaches at every level to support our progress. But make no mistake about it, we wanted to play for Schneider. We weren’t big; our ’82 team had two guys more than 200 pounds — the heaviest was 205 pounds — but we had desire and heart. We also had the best darn crowd in Northern California. When we got off the bus about 1½ hours prior to the championship game at Modesto Junior College, the stands on our side and half of the visitors section were already filled with our fans — more than 8,000 people.
That is what Tracy High football is about.
Tracy is a football town steeped in tradition. Take a look at Schneider’s lineage of football players on the West High and Tracy High coaching staffs. Congratulations, coach, on your induction into the National High School Athletics Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
I was fortunate to coach the 1987 Tracy High squad when they were freshmen, with coaches Steve Lopez and Jeff Hodges, and look forward to seeing old friends Friday night. However, I am more fortunate to have played football at Tracy High — a life lesson in challenging yourself to be the best, to apply yourself in all that you do with purpose and to do it because you love to do it.
Take a walk back in time with us Friday night and experience the football traditions of Tracy High. No excuses, since West High plays Thursday.
Ron Kenner, No. 40 on Tracy High School’s 1982 football team, resides in Lexington, Ky.