Diamond BarHigh School

All school campuses in the Walnut Valley Unified School District, including DBHS, will be closed through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are transitioning to online instruction.

Football Players Are CHAMPS Off The Field Too

Story By Richard Irwin, San Gabriel Valley Tribune Staff Writer

The Diamond Bar High School football team is proving that they're champs off the gridiron as well.

The Brahmas are tutoring kids at Castle Rock Elementary in the CHAMP (Creating Honorable Aspiring Mentors with Purpose) program.

"When Coach Ryan Maine asked if his players could come over to work with our kids I was excited," recalled Principal Carol Sullivan.

So it's become a usual sight for the big football players to jog onto the Diamond Bar campus one day a week to pick up their little buddies.

"It's good for our players as well as the youngsters," Maine suggested. "It teaches them responsibility and gives them a chance to give back to their community."

The Brahma coach actually attended Castle Rock as a youngster, so naturally he asked to work with Steve Thayer, his favorite teacher there.

"I had Mr. Thayer and he's always been one of my favorite teachers," Maine noted. "So the principal and I asked him to help out with our pilot program."

The enthusiastic instructor agreed. In fact, he's become a big CHAMP supporter.

"I think it's great for our students to have big buddies. It gives our boys positive role models," Thayer said.

The fifth grade teacher worked with other Castle Rock teachers to pick 10 students who would benefit the most from the new program.

"We picked some kids who need help reading. We wanted to target them for one-to-one instruction," Thayer said. "The students are tickled pink that the football players are showing an interest in them."

Coach Maine asked for 10 volunteers from the team. These CHAMPS received special training from Thayer.

"The players enjoy spending time with the kids, who look up to them," Maine said. "We want to give the students tickets to our football games, maybe some T-shirts."

Middle linebacker Bill Preciado was reading with his 9-year-old buddy Daniel Solis. The 16-year-old listened closely as the third-grader read to him.

"The coach asked if we wanted to help out in the community. I feel like a big brother to Daniel," Bill said.

Running back Matthew Bacon agreed.

"I want to set a good example. I'm glad I volunteered to tutor them. I think it motivates the youngsters," the 16-year-old added.

But it's not all work and no play. After reading a little bit, the CHAMPS take time to play with the kids.

"My kid likes to play handball with me," Bacon said.

Other students enjoy playing soccer and basketball with their towering heroes.

"The kids really look forward to the teens' visits," Principal Sullivan said. "They're very excited to work with the high school players."

Proving that what the Brahma stars do off the field is every bit as important as what they do on the gridiron.

PHOTOS: (Photo by Kelli Gilles courtesy of Walnut Unified )

1) Diamond Bar High football players play soccer with kids at Castle Rock Elementary School.
Diamond Bar High football player RB Matthew Bacon, 16, tutors Castle Rock Elementary School student during the CHAMP Program.
Daniel Solis, 9, reads to Brahma's player Bill Preciado, 16, during the CHAMP Program.