Redwood sports evolve over half century

Caroline Fogarty

When Redwood football players looked up towards the scoreboard last Saturday at Bob Troppman Field, they saw a three-point deficit, a 15-12 loss to cap another losing season. Turning to the stands, they saw a smattering of fans, mostly parents, a few Redwood students. But mostly they saw the bare metal of the bleachers. It wasn’t always this way.

A 1963 yearbook photo depicts Redwood playing against Terra Linda.
A 1963 yearbook photo depicts Redwood playing against Terra Linda.

In 1962, in the middle of Troppman’s legendary reign over the football program, 9500 fans came out on Thanksgiving morning to watch as the undefeated Giants upset the Tam Indians to earn their third MCAL title in four years.

In the first decade after the school’s founding in 1958, Redwood sports were characterized by the traditional trio of sports: football in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring.

“You played the sport or you were a spectator, it was what we did,” 1963 graduate and former Redwood cheerleader Marilee Rogers said.

Last week, Redwood’s football team ended its season with a league record of 3-4, and failed to qualify for MCAL playoffs. The team looked up at the scoreboard on the last game of the season to a three-point deficit and few fans as usual. Even though it was the team’s last home game, there were hardly any students in attendance.

“Over the years interest has waned. Sometimes Redwood could barely get a team, and for a few years there was no team,” Rogers said.

The entire football program in 1962 included a varsity team of 30, a JV team of 34, and a freshman team of 41.  All home games were played on the College of Marin football field because Redwood did not yet have a field.

Even though football has experienced a downward trend in attendance, volleyball’s attendance has soared. Girls’ sports were not even offered 50 years ago, but just two weeks ago the gym was filled with spectators as they watched the girls’ volleyball team take on Branson.

Before Title IX was enacted in the 1970s, which prompted high schools to offer equal athletic programs for each gender, girls participated in sports through the Girls’ Athletic Association in activities like shuffleboard, gymnastics, and cheer.

As new sports have evolved, participation in them has dispersed. However, basketball has remained the most popular winter sport since 1962.

In 1962 the basketball program housed five teams, compared to the three now, and the total program used to include 70 boys.

Just as the football field is named after Troppman, the basketball court is named after Dick Hart, the basketball coach in the early days of school history.

As attendance at sporting events evolves in certain sports, participation has fluctuated in others.

Swimming has greatly increased its numbers in the past 50 years, with 36 members making up the swim team in 1963 compared to the boys’ and girls’ teams supporting 62 swimmers now.

Since Redwood’s beginning, many sports have joined the three most popular sports: football, basketball, and baseball. Soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, and other programs have grown greatly with the addition of girls’ sports.