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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | ERIC SONDHEIMER

It Wasn't Just a Job, It Was an Adventure

August 30, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER

Imagine being a teenager with the whole summer to explore new adventures and meet interesting people.

That's the lure of accepting a summer job that your parents and friends would find amusing.

Some high school football players can look back on their summer jobs with a gleam in their eyes. Many got paid, others worked to fulfill family obligations. But the fun part of their odd jobs made it exciting.

There was the offensive lineman who chased bees, the tackle who worked as a butcher, the running back who earned tips by singing at an ice cream parlor, the quarterback who dug ditches on his family's ranch while watching for snakes, the tight end who got to ride in a drag racer, the defensive lineman who was shot at with paint pellets, the kicker who learned to blow glass, the fullback turned lifeguard who pulled a child from the ocean, the defensive back who taught sailing and the linebacker who walked with Tiger Woods in Scotland during the British Open.

Linebacker Jared DePaiva of Saugus was stuck working as a roofer under orders from his coach. Last summer, DePaiva traveled to Northern California and stomped grapes at a vineyard. The problem was he lost 25 pounds, dropping to 165. And his feet turned purple. This summer, the roofing work left him a fit, sturdy 205 pounds, pleasing Coach Ron Hilton.

"I don't like middle linebackers that weigh less than defensive backs," Hilton said. "[Jared] was probably eating and drinking the grapes."

What's a summer without a little fear and tension?

Offensive lineman Franco Alvarez of Reseda worked for his uncle rescuing homeowners from bees. He climbed trees, roofs and balconies. Despite wearing a protective suit, he was stung at least six times.

"It's real dirty work," Alvarez said. "A lot of times, you're on top of a tree or house and even if the bees are stinging you, you have to stay focused."

Coach Joel Schaeffer has a new appreciation for Alvarez.

"It's a heck of a way to make yourself tough," Schaeffer said.

Now, if only Alvarez can convince his teammates he really worked as a beekeeper.

"They don't believe me," he said.

Lineman Cesar Navarrete of Palmdale was trusted to handle a 15-inch knife as a butcher in a market. Teammates loved to shout, "Hey, there's my butcher!"

Want a slab of beef? Want lemon seasoning on your pork chops? Want teriyaki marinade on your flank steak? Navarrete does it all. Except at home, where his father still carves the turkey on Thanksgiving.

"I'm his assistant," Navarrete said.

Tailback Justin Hite of Chaminade served banana splits and ice cream cones, but if he wanted something extra, he had to sing. His biggest tip was $17. He'll be tuning up his voice in the locker-room shower for next summer.

Quarterback Phil Beckmann of Notre Dame was recruited to dig ditches at the family ranch in Mojave.

"Oh my God, it was 120 degrees in the shade," Beckmann said.

Twice, he chopped the heads off snakes with his shovel. It gave him experience to try out for "Survivor II" in the Australian outback.

Tight end Chuck Costabile of Alemany worked as a crew member on his uncle's drag-racing team. He even got to drive the car, sort of.

"I've driven it, but not with the engine on," he said.

But if Coach Craig Schuler of Alemany ever needs an oil change or new spark plugs for his car, Costabile's the man.

Defensive lineman Dan Horwitz of Chaminade was a referee for weekend paint ball enthusiasts. Everything was great--until paint pellets were aimed at him in retaliation for a controversial call.

Kicker Louis Zamora of Birmingham was an apprentice glass blower.

"It was hot but fun," he said.

But Zamora broke off his attempt at forming his own glass.

"I got real scared," he said. "It was too hot and I thought I was going to burn myself."

Running back Mario Martini of Crespi was working as a camp counselor on Catalina Island when he saw a child struggling to swim. He pulled him out of the water.

"I told all my friends, 'I saved some kid today,' " he said.

Defensive back Marty Berg of St. Francis hung out at his grandparents' house in Huntington Beach, working as a sailing instructor at the local harbor.

The most glamorous job belonged to sophomore linebacker Jeff Jastrow of Harvard-Westlake. He was hired by ABC as a spotter at the British Open and found himself tracking Tiger Woods.

Many football players held signs this summer. A Poly player worked at a sushi restaurant, another as a waiter at a French restaurant in Beverly Hills. Quarterback John Sciarra and receiver Clay Wolflick of St. Francis learned about torches, fork lifts and castings at a steel plant.

Then there was lineman Antoine Bohannon of Lancaster. Every time he came to practice, he was covered with chalk from his construction job.

"I think he ended up with more chalk on himself than he left at the construction site," a Lancaster assistant coach said.

At least Bohannon didn't get stung by any bees.

*

Eric Sondheimer's local column appears Wednesday and Sunday. He can be reached at (818) 772-3179 or eric.sondheimer@latimes.com.

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