New plaza highlights Pacific’s rich legacy in football
Almost eight decades of football at University of the Pacific are showcased in the new Stagg Memorial Football Plaza, a sparkling, 9,000 square-foot outdoor museum and gathering place unveiled April 30.
The dedication was part of a football reunion weekend that brought together 250 former players, coaches, fans and community members who recalled the halcyon days of Pacific football icons such as Amos Alonzo Stagg, Eddie LeBaron ’58, Dick Bass ’59, Pete Carroll ’73, ’78 and Tom Flores ’58.
The dedication ceremony was emotional for former Pacific student-athletes—some of whom went on to play in the NFL, and others who knew their final football games would be in Stockton.
“The strong feelings we have about Pacific football endure,” said Carl Kammerer ’61, who played nine years in the NFL as a lineman before moving into a job with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “There were many lasting relationships built here. Over the years, players and coaches represented Pacific with pride.”
Another former player, Greg Koperek ’89, was inducted to the Pacific Athletic Hall of Fame as part of the weekend ceremonies. He was a versatile player for Head Coach Bob Cope, who led Pacific’s football program in the late 1980s.
“I had the opportunity to do it all at Pacific, and I’m grateful to Coach Cope for that,” said Koperek, who earned a business degree. “He had me play defensive back and linebacker, as well as returning punts and kickoffs. I had a world of opportunities because of Pacific football. [My wife and I] were married in Morris Chapel. And I spent summers interning at the Bank of Stockton. Those are great memories of a wonderful time in my life.”
The storied history and tradition of Tiger football are told in exhibits found throughout the plaza. Important program supporters such as Alex G. Spanos, Robert Eberhardt and Larry Heller are showcased in tributes.
There also is a display featuring Flores and Carroll, both of whom have led NFL teams to Super Bowl championships, as well as a salute to the legendary and innovative coach Amos Alonzo Stagg.
Many ceremony attendees looked for their names on an exhibit that lists each football player who lettered for Pacific—from the start of the program in Santa Clara in 1919 to the final game in 1995.
“I did not have to come back because I have really never left,” said Jim Reynosa ’57, a native of Stockton who played quarterback for the Tigers and now lives in Oakdale. “Pacific football has been near and dear to me seemingly forever. This event and this new facility are a true gift to all of us who loved Pacific football.”
The football project was chaired by Carroll, former player, assistant coach and two-time athletics director Ted Leland ’70, ’74 and former Pacific Athletics administrator Cindy Spiro ’76, ’84.
Spiro said the four elements of the Football Legacy Project are intertwined:
• “The plaza, which we hope will be a gathering place on the campus.
• … the endowed scholarships, because many of you came to college on scholarship. With the 1-to-1 Powell Match, we have $600,000 in (an) endowed fund.
• … the preservation of Tiger football history. We are working in partnership with the Holt-Atherton Special Collections staff to collect photos, videos, media guides and more digitally”
• [and] … a dedicated web site for Tiger football.”
President Christopher Callahan stressed the importance of preserving the memories and traditions of Pacific football.
“Today, we honor the men and coaches who played right here and, most importantly, we welcome you all back,” Callahan said. “… Pacific will always be your home, and that is true for every single person here. You are, indeed, Tigers for life.”
Funding efforts for the football plaza include the opportunity to purchase personalized bricks or to make a gift to the project by contacting Executive Associate Athletics Director for Development Tim Dickson at firstname.lastname@example.org (209.946.3177) or visiting JOINPAF.org.