LA Watts Summer Games Kicks Off at Home Depot Center

Opening Ceremony of LA Watts Games Kick Off High School Tournaments

The 2012 LA Watts Summer Games got off on a great start today, as high school teams from the CIF Southern Section competed in the annual event that embodies a mission to "build bridges of understanding among high school youth through positive interaction, respect and achievement through spirited competition."

The Home Depot Center and surrounding California State Dominguez Hills played host to prep sports competitions that included 7on7 football, boy's lacrosse and volleyball and softball. The other opening festivities took place at Ted Watkins Memorial Park in Watts. Overall, the games spanned across several satellite locations in proximity to the Olympic Village. Boy's high school basketball competitions in the Gold Division were held at Dorsey, Westchester, Verbum Dei and Compton.

The opening ceremony was kicked off by the Los Angeles Junior Chamber Foundation at the Olympic Village with an eloquent speech to the student-athletes, coaches and fans in attendance. Sponsors such as O.N.E. Coconut Water, PopChips, Nature's Pearl, MatchMakers Sports Consulting and hosted visitors and offered giveaways and raffles, including an autographed Jerry West basketball.

Motivational speaker and former NCAA student-athlete and Bois State football coach Viliami Tuivai addressed student-athletes at the 2012 LA Watts Summer Games. Tuivai delivered a powerful message to the 16 high school football teams in attendance and offered words of inspiration that sent chill through the crowd. Prior to Tuivai's speech, San Francisco 49er great and Super Bowl Champion Dana Hall spoke to the group of prep footballers.

Hall offered advice to the players and encouraged the student-athletes to develop strong character and to have a good attitude. Hall's words were strong, yet effective, and he explained that, "attitude determines everything you do… The worst thing is to have a great athlete with a bad attitude. If I'm going to spend $180,000 as a D-1 school on a scholarship, I'm going to take a marginal guy and develop him, because I don't have to worry about the attitude, rather than take the athletic guy with the attitude, because I don't want to take that chance."

The Super Bowl Champ Hall applauded the promising LA Watts Games student-athletes during the group intermission and reminded them to remain focused on their dreams. "Don't let anybody tell you that you can't make it. I'm a living, breathing example that you can make it," he said.

"Once upon a time I was at the LA Watts Summer Games, playing basketball, running track. Just a little kid from Pomona, California. No one thought that I would make it, and everyday I dreamed I could make it. I don't care what the odds are. If the odds are one in a billion, I've got to be that one," Hall emphasized.

At the close of the high school football 7on7 competition on day one, boy's lacrosse took to the fields for action. Overall, the day featured many notable figures in the local high school and college football community. LA Watts Summer Games football chair and co-chair Jose "Coco" Jarin and Kenny Lawler helped lead a group that brilliantly organized the opening day of the 7on7 Football Tournament that featured 16 of the top Los Angeles area high schools.

Fans enjoyed things from the sidelines, and two fields featured grass and artificial field turf surfaces. The calm Socal breeze provided the ideal setting for throwing the pigskin. The result was nothing less than spectacular, as great competition and excellent camaraderie amongst the student-athletes, coaches, fan and volunteer referees got the opening day of the LA Watts Summer Games off to a great start at Home Depot Center.

Boy's basketball brought the most numbers to the 2012 LA Watts Summer Games, as 48 teams took place in competition on day one. Tomorrow's games in the championship bracket of the Gold Division feature 8 teams that include: Alemany vs. Hart, Palisades vs. JW North.

Westchester takes on Bell Jefferson in the losers bracket and games begin at 9AM at Westchester High School.

At Verbum Dei High School the winner's bracket includes games that feature Pasadena vs. Hoover (San Diego) and Washington Prep vs. Compton.

The consolation bracket for boy's basketball features Centennial vs. Claremont and Culver City vs. Sylmar.

In softball competition, Watts stood out by scoring 13 runs in a victory over Hamilton and claiming another win over Taft 5-4. Taft and King Drew split games, while Channel Islands and Lincoln picked up wins. Lincoln was able to shutout Palisades 6-0 on day one.

On the boy's soccer side, Banning won an exciting match over Bellflower 3-2 and scored shutout victories over Oceanview (3-0) and West Adams (2-0). West Adams beat Oceanview 1-0, but lost to Banning and Bellflower. Another great showcase was the Bellflower boy's soccer team, who also finished the day undefeated.

Those in attendance spoke highly of Watts Games of the past and were excited about the number of high school teams that were featured this year. The vibe was definitely energetic and had several memorable moments. I reminded myself that this was only day one. Look forward to more coverage from the 2012 LA Watts Summer Games from CLA, including video interviews, photos and more!

Note: Check out Westchester and Verbum Dei high schools tomorrow. Each location will feature some of the elite high school basketball programs in the Los Angeles area, as competition in the 2012 LA Watts Summer Games continues. If you want to see 7on7 football, come out to the Home Depot Center and use parking lot 4c.