*Los Angeles – Hundreds of student athletes and their parents assembled in a spirit of teamwork, competition and camaraderie in the iconic, historic landmark of the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday, June 17, 2017.
The USA City Games, formerly LA Watts Summer Games, relaunches the Summer games. The wonderful one-day event kicked off celebration was free and opened to the public. The event is a celebratory per-cursor to the 50th Anniversary of the USA City Games (USACG), a project of The Giving Back Fund, in 2018 and marks the return of the Games from several years hiatus. Highlights of previous games were shown on the Jumbo-tron.
The mission of the USA Games is connecting urban and inter-city kids through participation in Olympic style sports competition; linking multi-cultural communities through programs in health and education; building bright futures embracing body, mind & positive spirit.
The inaugural LA Watts Summer Games were held in 1968 at Locke High School. Originally called the Watts Summer Olympics, the games were modeled after the Olympic Games by Bill Sims and fellow members of Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce.
USA City Games combined volleyball, 7 0n 7 football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer and track and field, inside the iconic Coliseum. In addition to the various competitions, USA City Games featured a Fan Fest that invited all comers to try their hand/feet at buzzer beating basketball, throwing a strike with a baseball, scoring a goal with a soccer ball and throwing a touch down pass with a football.
The Fan Fest featured an array of local talents the highlight were three original Soul Train Dancers busting a move or two and a impromptu Soul Train Line. An outstanding spot on Michael Jackson impersonator thrilled the audience with his nimble dances moves with several back up dancers on the tunes “Got Me Working Day and Night,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller.”
The day kicked off (pun intended) with a soccer match between Fremont High School and Locke High School boys soccer team. Locke were victorious with a score of 2-1.
The official Opening Ceremony consisted of remarks from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti by way of the Stadium Jumbo-tron. KTLA Sports Host Derrick Horton served as Master of Ceremony and announced and welcomed the athletes who made a grand entrance through the Stadium tunnel. Anthony Paul Diaz, Executive Officer, and Chief of Staff, Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks presented a Proclamation, on behalf of the City of Los Angeles to Billy Frank, Executive Chairman of USA City Games and Don Janklow, President of USA City Games. George Hicker, Carla Jones, Rodney Dixon, Nick Davidson, Ryland Huyghue, former City Councilmember Tom LaBonge and Gloria Gray, Division II Director, West Basin Municipal Water District all delivered inspiring, uplifting words to the athletes. Abraham McDonald sang a rousing rendition of the National Anthem to conclude the Opening Ceremonies. Derrick Horton stated “Let the Games Begin.”
The athletes and their parents and fans dispersed throughout the Coliseum to view competitive games of volleyball, basketball, Track and field on the Coliseum field, soccer, followed by football and lacrosse were also on the field. Before each sporting event, the opposing teams gathered to recite the USA City Games Credo: I will play fair; respect my opponent; win with integrity; lose with dignity; above all; pursue the game with honor. Every participant and their coaches received a commemorative medal of the event. Stay Tuned for upcoming announcements about the 5oth Anniversary of USA City Games.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]