Category Archives: Life of a Brave

Life of a Brave (EXCLUSIVE): Get Hype for Tonight’s Epic Battle with 4-Star Strong Safety Kourt Williams

by Kourt Williams

It is difficult to put into words what a game like this truly means. Some are calling this the high school football game of the decade, even the century. From a players point of view, I can tell you this is nothing short of the opportunity of a lifetime. 

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This is the first time Bosco will play the team in red game at Panish Family Stadium. It’s number one and number two. No, not in the state of California, but in the whole United States. I thank God that I can be a part of it.

For the first time in a long time, we are considered the underdogs coming into a football game. We have been waiting for the opportunity to play these guys ever since last Winter, when we lost to them in the CIF-SS Championship game.

You best believe me and my teammates will be coming into the game with a big chip on our shoulders. We know Brave Nation has something to prove.

This will be the closest thing to a college football game you will ever see under Friday night lights: the atmosphere, media and, chiefly, the competition on the field. Between your Braves and the “team in red,” the competition will host close to 50 players with division one scholarship offers.

With all the implications, it’s honestly been hard to focus on anything else except the game. When those lights come on Friday night, the rush is like no other. It feels like going into a boxing match. That feeling of straight adrenaline feels like lightning in my bones, like I can run through a wall. It doesn’t get better than that.

However this game is much more than just winning and losing. Games like this is all about pride. Your manhood is on the line, and it will be tested. I personally know most of the players on the opposing team. Our reputation is up for grabs, and it can be taken in an instant. My 2020 class has only beaten the “team in red” once out of the four times we have played them. With this game possibly being our last opportunity ever to go head to head, our plan is to prevent history from repeating itself.

From a football perspective, the game plan is set and ready. Offensively and defensively we will be ready to battle. If proof from previous years of these teams matching up means anything, there will be surprises that both teams will present to each other. Whether it be particular offensive plays, or defensive schemes. Both teams have tricks in their back pockets that they have been saving for this game, which will be exciting to watch.

The crazy thing about a game like this is that we basically playing ourselves. Both team’s quarterbacks have NFL type playing styles already, both offenses have talent all over the place with some of the best raw athletes in the country, and it is the exact same thing on the defensive side of the ball.

Games like this are won by the team that makes the least amount of mistakes while playing the hardest for the longest. Let me be the first the first to tell you: this game will be physical, nerve wracking and one to remember. I just hope you’ll be in a seat somewhere to watch it unfold.

Life of a Brave: Unsung Hero Ms. Jeanne Pantuso

by Matthew Ruiz

Ms. Jeanne Pantuso is a well-known asset to Athletic Director Monty McDermott, all the sports teams and the staff and faculty members here at St. John Bosco. However, many parents and students don’t know who she is nor do they know all the work that she does to help the school’s athletic department, students and the overall community here at St. John Bosco High School. 

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Ms. Pantuso was born into a large family consisting of four brothers and two sisters. Her family has been associated with Bosco for decades, especially because her brothers came to Bosco. One brother, Mr. Jack Hastert, is still an extremely active and involved faculty member for the school, being the head golf coach and a recently retired religion teacher after over 30 years at Bosco. But Coach Hastert is far from the only connection to Bosco for Ms. Pantuso.

“My son Graduated from Bosco in 98’ with a football scholarship, and my daughter graduated from St. Joseph’s in 00’ two years later,” Ms. Pantuso said. She’s had many family members go through Bosco and St. Joseph’s High School whether that be siblings, nieces, nephews and brother and sister in-laws.

Ms. Pantuso herself has been working at Bosco for 26 years, wearing many different hats in her time on faculty. She especially has been involved with sports because she’s the Assistant Athletic Director under Mr. Monty McDermott. However, at different points in her career here at Bosco, she served as the Alumni Development Program, school secretary and attendance dean. The Alumni Development Program consists of organizing events like the SJB Golf Classic and the Alumni Memorial Mass.

Ms. Pantuso, as the Assistant Athletic Director, works closely with Mr. Monty McDermott, who is yet another Bosco connection as a member of the class of ‘86. In addition to being an alumnus, he has served as the Athletic Director here at Bosco since 2002, as well as having coached baseball and football at Bosco for seven years.

Both Mr. McDermott and Ms. Pantuso have a close relationship in and out of the work space.

“She does everything, scheduling, contracts, transportation, returns calls, collection of tickets and money, organizing volunteers, security, input scores and CIF information – on and on.  We have worked together for so long, I have complete trust in her,” Mr. McDermott said.

“I like to keep my office and department very organized so we split up responsibilities.  Ms. Pantuso’s main responsibilities are handling all scheduling, collection of contracts, all school transportation with buses and school vans, department files, meeting minutes, CIF required paperwork and coaching clearance… However, she will also help wherever there is a need. She is a 100% team player.”

“She is very easy to work with and brings a lot to the table. She is able to always maintain a professional demeanor, while keeping things fun in the office with her funny sense of humor,” added McDermott.

McDermott considers Mrs. Pantuso one his he and his wife’s best friends. The three of them even go to concerts together.

Ms. Pantuso is an approachable faculty member who is always excited to get to know all of the students. This says a lot about her personality and how she puts others before her, and for all she gives our community, she always puts the students first.

“The best part about working at Bosco are the students,” Ms. Pantuso said.

Life of a Brave: The Humility, Gratitude and Leadership Of Five-Star Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei

by Che Womack, Contributing Writer

The persona of a five-star high school quarterback, especially in the eyes of Hollywood, comes attached with arrogance and an unlikeliness to be deferential of teammates and coaches. This is not D.J. Uiagalelei. A true quarterback has to be someone who has the physical talent and mental fortitude to lead ten other individuals on the field to success. A quarterback is a leader, a headman, a commander. This is D.J. Uiagalelei.

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Growing up, D.J.’s world revolved around athletics, family and church. Coming from a religious family, D.J.’s faith was instilled at a young age. His church, Abundant Living Family Church, in Rancho Cucamonga, California, hosts people from all walks of life, as it opens its doors to people of all faiths. Diving deep into his faith, D.J. gave a visual on how his faith drove him to the promised land of virtue and prosperity.

“God has blessed me with a lot, besides being blessed by waking up day-to-day, he has blessed me with an amazing life, an amazing family, and year-by-year, an amazing team,” D.J. said. “He has blessed me by being able to play the game of football, by that blessing: He gives me the opportunity to showcase the talent he has given me.”

D.J.’s faith and family have driven him to the best person that he can be. Involving himself with Pop-Warner games, youth camps and other virtues that involves him helping others, D.J. chooses to be a part of something greater than himself.

Getting a front-row look at a quarterback’s development are the offensive linemen, who experience and see the true character of the signal-caller. From the classroom to the locker-room, on the field and all the way down to the huddle; the offensive linemen are able to recognize and identify the true characteristics of the quarterback.

The relationship between a quarterback and his offensive line is the most important companionship on the football field. D.J. and his linemen share a relationship that involves the utmost respect for a common goal between both positions. D.J. consistently and publicly shows his gratitude towards the gentlemen who protect him. To show gratification to individuals who do not get much praise, is the work of a leader.

“I feel like my offensive line is a huge reason why I am successful,” D.J. said. “Without them, I would not be in the position I am in today. I owe my success to them they block their butt off for me and I truly appreciate that.”

Being an offensive lineman at Bosco is a serious challenge, as they are tasked with protecting one of the nation’s best quarterbacks. The coaching staff sets a standard for this challenge every week for the offensive line.

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“We have the best QB in the country. There’s no doubt about it,” offensive line coach Jim Adams said. “Every statistic and analytic says it. If we cannot protect this guy, we won’t be successful. Period. We won’t achieve our goals; we won’t be champions. … If you want to win, you’ll protect the big fella. Let D.J. do what D.J. does best.”

The need to protect and serve does not only come from the coaches but from the offensive line itself. The protection they strive to provide is not simply for duty, but for the care and respect they have for their quarterback.

“Being D.J.’s blindside tackle is everything I could ever hope for. I take the highest level of caution and care when protecting D.J. in the backfield and I know my fellow lineman can say the same,” senior tackle Drake Metcalf said. “D.J. is the same guy he is on and off the field. He’s humble and always hungry for the next challenge or task at hand. Being linemen, it is our duty to take care of business upfront and let the cannon launch in the backfield. If we do our jobs, we can guarantee D.J. will make his magic happen.”

It is no surprise that those who know D.J. love him. However, it is not because of his fame but rather character. He doesn’t need to be the most popular guy. He doesn’t need to be someone who is always being talked about, or always in the limelight. He’s just an athlete; just another guy who plays football; just another teammate.

“He’s a humble, stand-up guy. He is a natural leader and a supportive friend,” senior guard Logan Bednar said. “Despite his fame, he is the same D.J. as he was when I met him at 14 years old, and he will be the same D.J. when he’s 30.”

Being humble and an individual of humility can be a great way of getting where you want to go. However, in the game of football, this cannot replace the attitude and hunger that has to come in order to win games.

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D.J. possesses this competitiveness. Competing for a spot his sophomore year, D.J. was named the starting quarterback during the week of the biggest high school football rivalry game in the country. On October 13th, 2017, D.J. made his first start against the then-ranked No. 1 team in the country. Despite the loss, D.J. tossed two touchdown passes and unleashed a multitude of amazing plays that exhibited his talent and love for his team.

Clemson University made a huge and early impression during D.J.’s recruitment process. “The Clemson Effect” is that Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney preaches family. Being a Clemson football player creates a huge task: The process of winning, of course, while respecting the culture that Clemson maintains. Coach Swinney’s culture at Clemson made lasting impact in D.J.’s decision.

“Football and sports is a big thing,” D.J. stated in a video in which he announced his commitment to Clemson. “But I also want to become a better person, get more connected with God. Just get closer with him. Whatever college could also do that, that’s where I want to be.”

Seconds after that line, D.J. announced his commitment to Clemson. A stand-up guy headed to a stand-up place.

Life of a Brave: Hawaii Football Trip Travel Log

by Kourt Williams

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Day 1: 

(Wednesday)

As the team and I are ready and set for the trip, eager to start this once in a lifetime experience, first we had to go through the challenge of getting there. I had to wake up at three o’clock in the morning to be able to get to Bosco by four. By the time I got to the school, the majority of the team was already there ready to go. As we drive in the dark on our way to the airport, even though this time of morning is usually peace and quiet, my teammates and I were wide awake, almost as if we were on our way to a party. You could just feel the excitement in the air.

As we arrive at the airport, after talking to my teammates about the trip, this is the first time some of them have ever been at an airport, let alone an airplane. Just the fact, young men in high school get to travel to an island and experience something only a few ever get to do, in all just to play a football game, is something I will never forget, always cherish, and never take for granted.

We land in Hawaii, and the excitement just rises. We load off the plane, get our bags, and head for the bus to go to our hotel. As a senior on the team, traveling is not really a new thing for me, but for some of the younger players that have never experienced it, they were just in awe about every little thing, and that was great to see them be able to experience that. As we are on the road headed to the hotel, the scenery is phenomenal. Looking at the beauty in the tropical mountains and the light to dark blue sea ahead just gave me this feeling of joy that made me realize the reality of the opportunities I’ve been given and I began looking forward to what lies ahead.

Day 2:

(Thursday)

As the day starts, my body is trying to get used to the time difference. Being three hours behind in terms of my body clock was something we all weren’t used to. That I would say was one of the most difficult tasks to overcome. This is the day that we all would be able to see history before our eyes. We would be at the same location as what happened in Hawaii territory on December 7, 1941. But first, as you would imagine, we had to practice. Everything about the trip was like we all were in paradise. Even the location where we practiced, we were on a grass field on a hill on the edge of the ocean. The view of the ocean was beautiful.

After practice, we head to Pearl Harbor. This I would say was the most profound moment of the trip. For myself and my teammates to be able to experience that together and learn an in-depth analysis of what really happened that day was an experience I would never forget. It really made us appreciate and be thankful for all we have today and what is provided for us because it made us realize in a blink of an eye it all could be over and gone.

Day 3:

(Friday)

This is day everybody has been waiting for and anticipating. It’s game day! Social media is going crazy, people from the outer states start rolling in, my family included. The night before it was hard for me to sleep because I was so excited about the game. As the day continues and we all start preparing for kickoff, the focus is on one thing and one thing only, to win a football game.

At six o’clock in the evening, it was time to go. As the game begins it seems pretty even in matchups of teams. But my defense and I were too much for their offense to handle. My offense started racking up points and it was beginning to become obvious who was the dominant force of the game. As the game concludes and both teams knew what the eventual outcome would become, things start to get a little riled up for the opposing team. We stayed dominant and made sure to keep all action on the field.

As the game ends and we head back to the hotel, I can sense there is a little disappointment from my team because the trip had to end, but nonetheless, we knew it had to end sometime. We were just thankful we got the job done and accomplished the main purpose of why we went on this trip in the first place, and that was to win a football game.

Day 4:

(Saturday)

Similar to day one of the trip, we had to wake up at three o’clock in the morning to head to the airport to make it home. Some of the best moments with my teammates are the aftermath of the trip because we actually get to talk about what we had just experienced. In it all, it just made the team’s bond closer. Taking a trip like that does nothing but make you a closer football team. It also allows you to become more than just teammates. It allows you to become brothers.

As we head to the airport and board our flight, as a whole, the team is ready to get back home and back to their normal lives, including me. When we land, there is a comfort that I felt knowing that I was back home. Knowing you have a home to go back to is one of the best feelings you can have. But knowing you have a second home with your team and brothers is an even better one, and I believe that became apparent because of this trip.

This adventure myself and Bosco football experienced was one I will never forget. It will be a story I will one day tell my children about. Something I will hold precious to my heart and cherish until the end of time.

Life of a Brave: New Faculty Q&A Featuring Ms. Sparks

by Christian Estrada

For our first new faculty interview at St. John Bosco High School of the year, we sat down with administrative assistant Ms. Emma Jean Sparks to ask her some questions and welcome her to the SJB family.

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Q: What’s your favorite movie?

A: Anything (and everything) from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Q: When is your birthday?

A: November 13

Q: What is your favorite color?

A: Blue – the color of the ocean!

Q: What is your Job?

A: I’m working as an administrative assistant – helping with registrar duties while Rubi Araque is out on maternity leave, and also helping Mr. Salmingo with the school’s technology update!

Q: How do you like your job?

A: Getting to work with the Bosco community has been such a fun experience. The staff, teachers, and students have all been so welcoming and warm.

Q: Who is your Favorite student?

A: My favorite student at SJB would have to be Ryan Jones! He is such an amazing actor!

Q: What is your best and worst childhood memory?

A: My best memory from my childhood would probably have to be playing in the neighborhood, riding bikes and rollerblading with all my friends.

Q: Do you have any Kids?

A: No kids yet, but I’ve always worked in education and I treat all of my students like family!

Q: Do you have a Significant other?

A: Yes, I am happily involved.

Q: What are your hobbies and what do you do for fun?

A: For fun, I love to watch movies, try new things like food and cultural experiences. I love to travel and plan to do much more in the next couple of years. I also love going to Disneyland and playing volleyball!

Q: What is your Funniest memory?

A: My funniest memory would have to be the time I made such a good joke that my cousin laughed so hard that her soda came out of her nose!

Q: What got you into your job?

A: By the time I got to college it was very clear to me that I would be pursuing a life in the educational field because of my passion for learning and working with youth. I have worked as a teacher, nanny, mentor, sports coach, program director, and several other positions which have all proven to me that the world of education is the place for me.

Q: What’s your favorite food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

A: For breakfast, I can never say no to a good breakfast burrito. When it comes to lunch, I’d have to say any version of a sandwich wrap – like the ones from Trader Joe’s. And for dinner, pasta is the way to my heart.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m originally from Long Beach, California. But I’ve just moved back after living in Northern California for over 6 years. Happy to be home.

Q: How do you like it at Bosco?

A: Bosco has been great! It’s such a beautiful community and the campus is absolutely gorgeous.

Q: What is your biggest fear?

A: SNAKES!

Q: What makes you the happiest?

A: The ability to make someone else happy.

Q: What is your religion?

A: I was raised in the Catholic faith and attended Catholic school from Kindergarten through my senior year of high school.

Q: How strong are you in your beliefs?

A: My beliefs are very important to me.

Q: What is your favorite drink?

A: My favorite drink is probably an Iced Green Tea Lemonade!

Q: What city were you born in?

A: I was born in Anaheim, California.

Q: How do you handle stress?

A: If I ever feel stressed, I do my best to take a step back from the situation. I focus on my breathing and work to clear my stress. I always find it best to ask for help and to talk about any dilemmas out.

Q: Do you interact with any of the students at Bosco in your free time, if so what do you guys normally talk about?

A: Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to connect with the students at Bosco yet. But I am hoping to do so once I get a bit more settled! I’m excited to learn about their interests both inside and outside of school, and about their personal learning experiences at SJB!

Life Of A Brave: When Being a “Brave” Means Getting Help, CPLA Is There

by Emilio Ceja and Jesse Neville

Stress levels in teens are beginning to match and even surpass the levels of adults, often in worse conditions than those stressed adults because of the unique social pressures adolescents face. Without a way to cope or handle this stress, many students often become overwhelmed and can fall behind in taking care of their schoolwork, their personal relationships and, most importantly, themselves.   

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However, students at St. John Bosco have a choice. Bosco began its mental health counseling program began during the 2006-2007 school year, offering a free and personalized counseling service to help with student stress and other issues they may face. Through this program, the students are not treated as “clients,” but are treated as a friend that has others around them that they are able to talk to. 

The original “Outreach Concern” counselors at Bosco have been replaced by counselors from a new company called Counseling Partners of Los Angeles (CPLA). These new CPLA counselors serve the same purpose as the Outreach ones and help the academic counselors meet all aspects of student needs. 

While assisting the free mental health counseling service at Bosco, these counselors also complete the hours they need for their Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) degrees. Emaryne, one of the counselors currently at Bosco, has been with CPLA for about a year and has almost completed her set amount of hours to receive her MFT degree. She is a counselor that prides herself on taking creative approaches to therapy.

“I do a lot of play therapy. I don’t do the traditional counseling of sitting across from you asking about your feelings,” said Emaryne. 

The idea of a stress-free meeting with a counselor, such as just talking while throwing a football around or going for a walk, does not seem to be something that can help with stress, but in reality, the simplest actions can help the most. 

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Mr. Jaramillo, the activities director, currently oversees the counseling program at Bosco. He is pleased with the change in the CPLA counselors, explaining how the new counselors work methodically and systematically to help students most. 

“Outreach was reactive, but CPLA is more preventive. Along with being strategically reactive, the CPLA counselors are much more structured and easily approachable,” said Mr. Jaramillo. 

Meetings with the counselors can be scheduled in a variety of ways, teachers or family members can ask for a student to be seen by the counselors, or better yet, the student themselves can walk into the CPLA office and just ask to talk to them.

The counselors themselves leave time slots open throughout the day in case there is a need for them to be called at any time. They prepare ahead of time with their schedule to make sure they have time for any student that comes through the door. 

Students are not limited to using the service only if recommended, which is a major deal. This means any student can go no matter the circumstance or the need.

One student from the senior class went to the counselors just because he needed someone to talk to and express the troubles he had that he could not bring up at home. These issues that were going on in his household were getting in the way of his school work, and throughout the process of counseling, he says that his grades recovered and he no longer had to take Summer school. 

“It was a calming and personal experience that allowed me to refocus on the opportunities in front of me,” said the class of 2020 student.    

This rarely used program can be beneficial to many but is surrounded by the stigma of something having to be wrong in order to go. The counselors are there to benefit students, and there does not need to be a serious problem for a student to attend. 

Personal counseling is rare to find, especially for free. Despite this, the counseling services are not well-known, or even known at all, to some. Breaking the mental health stigma around campus is the first step toward putting a lot more students in the best environment possible to thrive and take advantage of all that come with being a “Brave.”

Life of a Brave: Incoming Freshman Look to Blaze Their Own Trail

by Elias Gomez

Being a freshman at Bosco is a great responsibility. It is a privilege. In the classroom as well as in the community, where students may don anything carrying the cherished “Bosco” name, they are expected and held to a standard of representing the “Bosco Brotherhood.”

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These incoming freshmen Braves began the year with a positive mindset and a fresh start with new student orientation. Like many Braves, one freshman, Diego Marquez, says that he is looking forward to Bosco’s Pathway Programs.

“The Engineering Pathway is something I am excited for because it teaches me how to be a good leader and to problem solve,” said Diego Marquez.

Diego’s intellect and willingness to learn will help him, and all freshman, in his progression through respective Pathway Programs, or just balance the classroom with extracurriculars.

Also like many incoming Braves, Diego is also looking forward to baseball tryouts and working hard to make the freshman team.

Matthew Thomas, another incoming freshman also said he was excited to meet new friends and play on the freshman baseball team.

Matthew Thomas, like many generations of Braves, has an older brother, Anthony Thomas, at Bosco who can help him with trying to get the rhythm of high school..

Obviously, this freshman class has varying goals and ambitions, but it is the responsibility of upperclassmen to set an example and offer guidance.

“Being a freshman at Bosco was a learning experience and had many failures. But I had to keep going and keep trying at the things I loved,” said junior Josiah Briscoe.

Most freshmen are intimidated when it comes to dances, football games and trying to change classes. This is when the big brothers come into play and help the freshman and support them. Being supported or feeling comfort as a freshman is the best thing upperclassmen can provide.

Many freshmen want to succeed in getting good grades, making a sports team and making new friends. The only way to do these things is to stay positive and worry about developing positive work habits. All in all, the incoming freshmen should have fun and just embrace all that Bosco provides with class, politeness, and diplomacy.

Sure, our new freshman will face their failures, but as long as they keep their heads up and keep getting better then they will survive high school, become a better person, and ultimately be able to call themselves a “Bosco Man.”

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