Opening Day at Ramona Soccer Arena

By Maureen Robertson

The county is proud to partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego, San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said during opening day ceremonies at the Ramona Soccer Arena adjacent to the

During Ramona Soccer Arena opening ceremonies, Supervisor Dianne Jacob provides some of the 10-year history of how the Ramona Soccer Arena became a reality. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

club’s Ramona branch in Collier Park on Saturday.

“I’m really proud,” said Jacob. “This is a county park and, with the partnership we’ve had with the boys and girls club, the soccer arena’s another partnership….it enables the county to provide more recreational facilities for our communities—and particularly for our kids.”

It was a morning of celebration and thanks in the arena in the 600 block of E Street. Danny Sherlock, president of the Greater San Diego youth club organization, led the ceremonies.

“We wanted to create a fun and safe space where the children of Ramona could engage in physical activities—both informal recreational activities and structured athletic leagues,” he said. “It was a long time coming, but the club members who have been enjoying the arena since its unofficial opening a few weeks ago tell me it was worth the wait.”

Sherlock singled Conrad Prebys and Jacob for special attention.

“I’m here today to recognize him and thank him for his generous donation to the boys and girls club,” Jacob said of Prebys, who donated $100,000 to the project.

“In my world of philanthropy, that’s a minor gift,” said soft-spoken Prebys, who owns several apartment complexes in Ramona.

Philanthropist Conrad Prebys, who owns several apartment complexes in Ramona, talks about the value of the new soccer arena in Collier Park. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

“I’ve been involved in Ramona for 40 years,” he said. “I own about 1,500 apartments in the community here. I’ve been a builder here for 40 years.”

A San Diego resident, Prebys said Ramona reminds him of South Bend, Ind., where he was born.

“It’s a great place for the young people to burn their excess energy, to enjoy themselves,” he said of the new arena. “It’s great. Soccer seems to be in….It beats the streets, it really does.”

Prebys said he was on the board of a halfway house for 34 years and has seen the ravages and human wreckage caused by drugs.

“Just being silent about it isn’t going to make it go away,” he said.

Soccer players get ready to dig into the food provided by Rubio's, Albertsons and Stater Bros. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

Prebys believes the state-of-the-art soccer arena will have an impact on juvenile delinquency by providing young people an alternative.

“I’m so impressed with what I see out here,” he said.

Ten years ago, the plan was to have a gymnasium next to the youth clubhouse, said Jacob.

“Working with the community, we found that that was a very, very expensive proposition,” she said. “…You know what? I think that time has worked in our favor, because this soccer arena, it’s incredible, and I suspect it’s going to get a lot more use, and we sure have a lot for our money.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego donated $250,000 to the project, and the county designated $372,000 in District 2 neighborhood reinvestment money. The youth organization’s contribution includes Prebys’ donation.

The county money “sat there for a long time, waiting for a project, waiting for some partners, financial partners, and along came Conrad Prebys,” said Jacob. “So the reasons I’m here today is because I want to

Liam Holloway, 2, wears an oversized Sockers shirt and holds a soccer ball as he walks on the new field in Collier Park. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

honor him, I want to recognize him for his very, very generous donation…We would not be here today dedicating this soccer arena if it had not been for Conrad, so, Conrad, thank you very much. You’ve been so generous, not just with this facility, but with so many efforts in our region…Now, play ball, and thank you all for coming.”

Sherlock and youth club board members David Claycomb and Dan Kolk presented Jacob and Prebys with framed boys and girls club soccer jersey declaring them No. 1 supporters of the arena. Jordan Marks from state Sen. Joel Anderson’s office presented certificates commemorating the arena’s grand opening.

“It’s an absolute honor to be here today and partake in this wonderful community event,” he said.

Also at the event were San Diego Sockers players Chiky Luna, Eric Wunderle and David Beltran, Craig Jung representing Ramona Chamber of Commerce, Cory Linder from the county Parks and Recreation Department, and Miss Ramona Grace Woolley and Miss Teen Ramona Andrea Proctor.

Once grand opening formalities ended, children and adults enjoyed food provided by Rubio’s, Albertsons and Stater Bros., face painting, balloon animals, prize give-aways and soccer-themed games.

Beth “Flutterby” Todd makes a flying dophin for Natalie Banda, 5. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

At noon, the soccer games started.

For more information about the arena and the boys and girls club, call 760-789-1416 or contact Futbol Rapido USA at 858-836-0187 or

Michael Flagg, 8, does his job as goalie as Madison Vasquez attempts to score. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

Daisy Lanini, 2, enjoys the rice during Opening Day at the Ramona Soccer Arena. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

Supervisor Dianne Jacob and Danny Sherlock, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego, are flanked by Miss Ramona Grace Woolley, left, and Teen Miss Ramona Andrea Proctor. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

The Chevez family of Ramona — Cesar, Evelyn and daughter Stephanie, 14 — get into the spirit of the day (the fake teeth were in the goodie bag everyone received). Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego Board members Dan Kolk, second from left, and David Claycomb, right, present Supervisor Dianne Jacob and philanthropist Conrad Prebys with framed soccer jerseys naming them No. 1 supporters of the Ramona Soccer Arena. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Sep 16 2011. Filed under Featured Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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