Smoke was in the air and ashes rained down on us. Curfew confined the neighborhood at night, yet as young teens seeking solace from friends, we darted through the darkness while the 1965 Watts riots engulfed our community.
This past weekend, former athletes from Los Angeles High School celebrated the 50th Anniversary of winning the 1969 California State High School Track Championship.
Three sprinters ran the 100 yard dash in 9.6, 9.4, and 9.2 seconds, the latter one-tenth off the world record. Our pole vaulter set the national record at 16’ 7 3/4” which still stands today as the LA City record. We dominated middle distance, had the fastest mile relay team in the state, and were destined to win the title
Later, two athletes battled each other in Super Bowl X, and the head referee was our high school principal.
As youngsters, we learned survival skills. But as athletes, we developed values of teamsmanship, work ethics, and goal setting to achieve success.
We are now older, grayer, shorter, and lining up at the bathroom.
But in 1969, we rose from the ashes like a phoenix to bring pride to our community when it was needed the most.
Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.
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