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
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.
“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.
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
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.
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 FutbulRapidoUSA.com.