College is Real Program History

Richmond High School soccer teamIn February, 2005, the Richmond High School boys soccer team played Monte Vista High School of Danville, in the first round of the North Coast Section post-season playoffs. Richmond was the undefeated, number one seed and Monte Vista the number eight, and lowest, seed. In a game in which Richmond dominated the action on its home field, which was muddy and in poor condition, Monte Vista scored a lucky goal and ended up pulling off a surprising upset, winning 1-0.

The Richmond players and fans were stunned and frustrated. Monte Vista was afraid of what the local fans’ reaction might be and knew of the bad reputation of the City of Richmond. The Monte Vista team huddled closely together and formed a convoy to leave the field to make their way to the darkened parking lot. As the Monte Vista team left the field, the Richmond players and fans formed a tunnel and cheered the Monte Vista team for its effort in the game and wished them luck in the next round of the playoffs. The Monte Vista coach, Fred Wilson, and many of the Monte Vista parents and players, commented that they had never seen such an admirable, unexpected and heartfelt display of sportsmanship. The first-class response of the Richmond team and its supporters is a testament to the class, values and positive attitude that the Richmond coaches have instilled in their players and the soccer program.

When Brad Blake, a soccer coach for a girls club team in Danville and a girls soccer coach at Monte Vista, and some of the parents from the club soccer team he coached learned of this remarkable display by the Richmond team, they decided that instead of providing an end of the season gift to Brad and his assistant coach from their club team, they would make a donation to the Richmond High School girls soccer program as a demonstration College Is Real soccer team of their recognition of the sportsmanship displayed by the Richmond boys program. Brad, his assistant coach, and some of the parents presented a $2,000 check to the Richmond coach at a school board meeting that May. The coach, board and those attending the meeting were overwhelmed by the generosity and gave a standing ovation. This helped Brad realize the dramatic impact a nominal amount of money could have on this program, school and community.

At this meeting, Brad met the coach of the Richmond boys’ team, Rene Siles, and began to learn more about the Richmond soccer program, boys and girls. He was impressed with the passion, dedication and values that Rene and his fellow coaches had instilled in the Richmond players and teams. He talked to Rene about additional ways to support the program. It became apparent that what the Richmond program needed most, was not soccer equipment, but was help with academic motivation, resources and creating an organized program to help the soccer players succeed in the classroom so that they could have the opportunity to qualify for college. Few of the Richmond players attended, or even applied for, college for myriad reasons.

The soccer players were given the training and resources to help them succeed in soccer and had developed the work ethic and commitment to excellence on the field, but they needed a program to help them succeed in the classroom and realize there were bigger opportunities beyond Richmond and soccer.

"College is Real" was born