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‘Field of Hope’ brings true home field advantage

ESCONDIDO — The San Pasqual Academy Dragons now have the ability to enjoy what so many other high school football and other sports teams have had — home field advantage. It’s an advantage that not only builds momentum for a team, but helps to build a community, which permeates throughout the school.
The San Pasqual Academy, a one-of-a-kind school built especially for foster youths, held a dedication ceremony Sept. 26 for the “Field of Hope,” their brand new football field, which was established by the efforts of San Diego Chargers Quentin Jammer, his wife Alicia and the Jammer Foundation, along with fellow Charger Philip Rivers, his wife Tiffany and the Rivers of Hope Foundation.
“When we think of our high school years, we think back at the role sports played and really in who we were as a school,” Ron Roberts said. “Our identity was all tied up in it. And our friends were participating and we were participating; it seemed like just a normal, important part of going to school. Studies were important, no question about it, but I think the role of sports and creating a real community is extremely important.”
Roberts, with Judge Mike Milliken and District 1 Supervisor Greg Cox began, before there was any academy, to formulate an idea about how they should be doing something different for the foster kids of San Diego.
What they came up with was a residential center where the kids would live and attend a first-class school, Roberts explained. “And let’s see if we can make a difference in the lives of foster kids. There is nothing in this whole country that works any better for foster kids today,” he added.
The whole reason we do this is to help get kids on the right track, Jammer explained. “All it takes is somebody to care and to motivate somebody.”
Jammer is hopeful the field will do for the kids what it did for him, he said. “Where I grew up it wasn’t the best of towns, so (football) definitely kept me out of trouble, kept me off the streets and definitely taught me a lot about life, teamwork and how to be a great person.”
“The field of hope is just that, from Quentin and Philip, it’s absolutely a field of hope and we couldn’t be more grateful,” said Debby Syverson of the San Pasqual Academy.
For Philip Rivers, playing high school football still has an impact on him even after playing four years of college football and eight seasons in the NFL, he said.
“I still have those great memories and those are some the friendships and the things that you have forever. Playing at home on a Friday night in Alabama was special. Having a home game, having a pep rally and having your students come and now they can have that here. It’s more than a field, it’s never about just the field itself, but it’s all the things that football, for me, the life lessons it teaches you, and now these kids can have a sense of pride and ownership and have a field to call their own.”
“Excellent, excellent,” said Chris, a student and football team player, in response to what it was like playing at home for the first time. “It’s amazing to come out here and have the whole team pumped and finally take on a team at our field instead of traveling a distance to get to theirs,” he added.
“It gave us the benefit of home field advantage,” he said.