By Cristina Galvan
In an event that transcends football, Roosevelt and Garfield renewed their 77-year rivalry at Weingart Stadium, in front of 25,000 rabid fans.
Known as the most attended high school football game west of the Mississippi, the East L.A. Classic attracts fans from East L.A., Boyle Heights and all around Southern California and the country. The tradition began in 1925 and has taken place ever since, except from 1939 through 1948 due to The Great Depression and World War II. Roosevelt leads in victories, winning 40 times to Garfield’s 31 wins with six ties.
East L.A. College’s Weingart Stadium has been home to the game since 1951, and for four years the game took place in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. For years, there have been rumors that the classic might be moved to Pasadena. There have been recent reports saying that there is the possibility that it will be moved to the Rose Bowl next year.
Both schools have been unhappy with the current costs that come with hosting the game at ELAC, which include rent and city permit fees. The two schools also complain that they do not receive any revenue from food sales and parking. The game is a big deal for Roosevelt and Garfield. They prepare for the game weeks before the big day. To show some support, both schools have a spirit week, rallies and have decorated their schools.
Throughout the game, attendees are entertained. During halftime, they are able to enjoy a show with performances from each school’s band, drill team, cheerleading squad and baton throwers.
The classic is not just a football game. It is a time for people to come together. Stands are filled with school faculty, alums, former players, students and their families. “It is a time to see your classmates and friends you only get to see at this game,” said Russel Nomura, who graduated from Roosevelt in 1979.
During the game, pride fills the air. Fans shout, “Lets Go Bulldogs” or “Lets Go Riders,” as they wear school colors, making the stadium look like a sea of blue and crimson and red and yellow.
One of Roosevelt’s Honorary Captains, Sal Quesada, said “(The classic) is a source of pride.” Quesada played in the Classic for Garfield three times, in 1966, 1967 and 1968. “Playing in the classic is exciting. You have butterflies. It is fun to have the bragging rights for that year,” said Quesada. He is currently an AP Calculus teacher at Roosevelt and is about to retire after teaching for 30 years.
After graduating, people still return to support their schools and cheer on their football players. Lupe Duarte works security at Roosevelt and was once a cheerleader there. She said “It (the classic) is just excitement, especially when you are born in Boyle Heights, born and raised in Boyle Heights.”
The classic makes friends temporary “enemies.” Duarte said she has friends who went to Garfield. “When it comes to the classic, we are enemies,” said Durate. The classic is memorable for all those involved. Current and former players talk in awe of the game.
Fullback, Larry Ravelo plays for Garfield’s varsity team and said that six of his family members have participated in the classic. They were the source of his motivation. “Since I was a little kid, I would watch them,” said Ravelo. Ravelo said that the reason why he wanted to attend Garfield was because he really wanted to play in the classic.
Jovanie Flores was a quarterback for Garfield and is now a quarterback for ELAC’s football team. “Playing in the classic is an experience you will never get anywhere else,” said Flores. The classic gives the community a chance to come together, to not only enjoy football, but to also relive past memories and make new ones.