By Brandon HENSLEY
Rick Dinger is the president of Crescenta Valley Insurance, but every late Tuesday morning this fall he will become a rabid football fan who joins a bunch of other fans who get together and talk about the game, hold fundraising events for local teams and listen to some notable guest speakers inside the Glendale Elks Lodge.
That is where the weekly meetings of the Glendale YMCA Quarterback Club are held every football season, for which Dinger is now the program chair.
What the Quarterback Club does, according to Dinger, is get about 80 to 100 people in the room and hold pools for college and NFL games, get up to speed on the local high school teams and listen to a lunch speaker for about 15 minutes.
The club is now entering its 69th year, and the first meeting this year is Tuesday.
“Administrators wanted to get together and talk about how to support the local schools and build excitement for the local teams … and it’s been around for 69 years,” Dinger said.
The players from these teams – Crescenta Valley, Hoover, Glendale, St. Francis and Glendale College – don’t attend but the head coaches do, and they get up and talk briefly on how their team fared last game, who was a standout player and what they’re looking forward to next game.
“It’s a really good community thing,” said CV head coach Paul Schilling. The only downside for Schilling is that he has to find a substitute for his fourth period class at that time to be able to attend.
“That’s what’s hard for us, and so most of the guys that are in [the club] are retired,” he said.
At the end of the season ¬– Thanksgiving week – specific players from each team – including the JV level – attend and are recognized for either their play on the field or their academic success.
“In the old days, they used to bring the whole senior [class] and they’d feed them all and it was awesome,” Schilling said. “Now, the place is too small and it just got too crazy.”
Dinger said the club tries to raise $500 for each team per season by holding raffles and other events. Then there are the speakers, which sometimes include big names.
In 2009, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky spoke. Dave Leggett, the 1955 Rose Bowl MVP for Ohio State has spoken. L.A. Times high school sportswriter Eric Sondheimer and former Daily News and current ESPN.com writer Ramona Shelburne have also made presentations.
This year will also offer some interesting speakers. Jay Schroeder, former UCLA and NFL quarterback, will speak at the first meeting. L.A. Times football writer Sam Farmer will is scheduled for Oct. 11, followed by former UCLA quarterback Cory Paus the next week, and on Nov. 15 Justin Watson, who won a Super Bowl while playing for the St. Louis Rams during the 1999 season, will speak.
Dinger isn’t just a football fan. He’s a former player for St. Francis and Cal State Northridge (when the school had a team) and coached for St. Francis for six years. He said he is excited to be involved as program chair this season.
“I’m a football fan. I enjoy the sport,” he said. “I enjoy going to games, I take my kids to games. As a former high school football player I always enjoyed it when there were more people in the stands … it’s a great way to tie-in [sports to] the community.”
Besides, he said, “I figure you have to help out if you’re part of an organization.”