You are only a high school student for four years but you are a teammate and a classmate for life — at least that is how it works with the family and friends and teammates of Danny Fager.
We lost Danny just over eight years ago. Danny graduated from Ramona High School in 1984. He played football and baseball and then went on to college. He graduated and became a teacher and a coach. He touched many lives.
Danny was not a great athlete, but he was a great teammate and a great friend. He was a competitor and a prankster. He enjoyed playing golf and he had some creative ways of making shots and scoring.
He didn’t play soccer at Ramona High School, but he incorporated soccer skills on many occasions to improve his lie in golf. He wasn’t a math teacher, but he used math creatively in recording his golf scores.
He was fun to play with. He took teaching and coaching seriously, but he never took himself seriously. He often carried an old club in his bag that he procured from the lost and found. He used the club to throw in water hazards for effect during games or for breaking over his knee. He was not a bad sport, but he loved to act like one to shock people.
On Saturday, the eighth annual Dan Fager Family Golf Tournament took place at San Vicente Resort and then moved to Ramona Oaks Park for a barbecue. Three generations of golfers and friends participated. Danny’s parents, Dave and Margi Fager, were the tournament directors and party hosts.
To prepare for this column, several people were called. When they learned the Danny Fager golf tourney was the topic, the first thing every person called did was laugh. That’s because the Danny Fager Golf Tourney is about having fun and having a good laugh.
This year, a living legend in Ramona, John Bowman — it is actually Dr. John Bowman Ph.D. John did everything at Ramona High School and did even more at Saint Augustine High School. In his tenure at RHS, he was The English teacher, drama director, yearbook adviser, football coach and baseball coach, and he was in charge of several other adjunct duties. He is fluent in Spanish and his English vocabulary would embarrass Howard Cosell. He can speak with the most highly educated individuals and he can converse with longshoremen.
John has a dry sense of humor and a cutting wit. He is 85 years young and remembered every one of his former students and players and reminded them of all of their transgressions in the classroom and on the athletic fields.
“John was at his best,” said Dave Fager. “He had a ball, and everybody who saw him immediately got a smile on his or her face, but before they could tell John their name he called them by their name and in most cases their nickname.”
One foursome represented three generations. Vern Parsley, the patriarch and team captain, played with his sons, Todd and Jon, and his grandson Thomas. They had a team shirt that had a logo from Vern’s Navy career.
This writer’s foursome was unique. George Cobian and Frank Romero work at the federal Men’s Correctional Center and both offered me a place to live in my retirement. Senior Special Agent Steve Marin from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was the hero of the foursome and the tournament. He saved Frankie from drowning in a water hazard while Frankie was trying to retrieve a ball and avoid a penalty shot (“If you get it out it ain’t a penalty,” according to Frankie).
The tournament was a best ball scramble and one player in each foursome played the hole for Danny. Each foursome was allowed five mulligans, but George interpreted the rule that each golfer got five mulligans on every hole.
“We didn’t use all of our mulligans. We will carry them over to next year,” reasoned Marin.
The barbecue was better than the golf.
“Next year we are going to have the tournament on the last Saturday in July. We have to get the word out that those who don’t golf can just come to the party for free. The tourney is about having fun,” explained Dave Fager.
Trent Annicharico brought a new product to the tourney. He has a buddy who is marketing a new beverage, Legends, which is brewed and has pictures of sports legends on the bottles.
Approximately 50 golfers enjoyed the tourney and several more enjoyed the barbecue. Men, women and children of all ages agreed they had a great time. It was truly a celebration of life. Teammates, classmates and friends are for life.
Danny Fager died eight years ago. Proceeds from the annual tournament go to scholarships for graduating seniors in the Ramona Unified School District.