By Susan Motander
Last Saturday, Kare Youth League and Rio Hondo Preparatory School celebrated the Grand Opening of the Truman B. Stivers Center. The athletic and Classroom Complex was names in honor of Stivers, a major benefactor. He had been one of the first members of the organization when it was known as the Boy’s Christian League in 1922. Stivers had supported Kare Youth League and he supported its mission and schools because he wanted to see children enjoy the same advantages he gained as a member when he was young.
At the dedication, Philip Ostergard, another of the boys who helped found the club in the 1930s and is now its president, spoke of the early days of the organization. He explained that the group which started in Pasadena and Sierra Madre met wherever they could find space: an abandoned building, classrooms at churches, even the basement of the Sierra Madre Police Station. They had no place of their own and played in vacant lots and public parks.
Ostergard said it was an organization for boys and by boys in that the boys organized the club and ran it themselves. The group focused on team sports and outdoor activities. He said that it was more in that Christian values were emphasized and the boys involved pledged themselves to those values. The League has not strayed from them.
Ostergard would probably agree with Brian Mejia who, representing County Supervisor Mike Antonovich was one of the dignitaries who spoke at the opening. Mejia said the facility would “help our children become leaders and great sports.”
In recalling those early days, Ostergard said they created a list of the things they dreamed of for the club: a club room, a bus, a camp, even a school. They worked to fulfill those dreams. They started with just an old car (it was missing second gear) and they now have a small fleet of buses which can transport the members to their two schools and their own camp in the mountains. Those dreams were realized. Looking at the new facility, Ostergard said “A gym was beyond their vision.”
The new facility is beyond just a gymnasium. The 22,000 sq. ft. complex includes classrooms, training rooms, a kitchen, 4 locker rooms with showers for students and a separate one for referees and officials. The energy efficient facility is equipped with state of the art media including two 80: screens and is fully heated and air conditioned. There is even an elevated open air terrace for gatherings and receptions.
The main feature is, of course, the gymnasium which can be used as either a competition basketball or volleyball court. In addition, it can be reconfigured as either two basketball or three volleyball courts. Beyond that, at one end there is a performance stage complete with stage lighting. In order to accommodate the stage, the basketball backboards can be electronically raised out of the way. The side boards for cross court games can be raised or lowered in the same way to accommodate the age of the students playing as the League and its schools served children from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Even if those young men in the 1930s had added a gymnasium to their list of dreams, this one would doubtless be beyond their imaginations.
By Susan Motander