Each year, we award the Spirit of Long Beach to a person or group of people who move us, and who we feel we’ll remember for years to come when we look back. This year, the Spirit of Long Beach is going to a large group, but one that rarely gets mentioned in print: administrators, athletic directors, and everyone else who works behind the scenes to make things happen.
This was an unprecedented sports year and it required an unprecedented effort to pull that off. Moore League secretary Lisa Ulmer, LBUSD high schools superintendent Jay Camerino, all of the Moore League athletic directors, all the CIF Southern Section staff–these are the unsung heroes who helped make sports go this year, in a school year where it looked like they might not.
The LBUSD fought hard to make sure kids could do conditioning workouts outside during the pandemic, giving kids some sort of structure and socialization. When the green light came on to make sports happen, the city’s athletic directors put in work like never before to find ways to hold soccer, baseball, football, basketball, track and field, baseball, and volleyball events simultaneously, sometimes literally at the same time. One school could have as many as 40-50 games going on in a given week.
It was an exhausting time of great joy, but also great stress (for sportswriters, too!). The sports scene is usually rigidly defined and runs on calendars set a year in advance. This last year, games being canceled on the day they were scheduled, or moved to a different week, was the norm and not the exception. It meant a lot of chaos and a lot of panicked phone calls, but it also meant that the kids of Long Beach got as close to a normal school year as was possible.
None of it would have been possible without the people behind the scenes–so thanks to this year’s Spirit of Long Beach winner, the athletic administrators.