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Football: A tradition continues at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame

August 14, 2010 |  7:46 am

For 19 consecutive years, from Justin Fargas to Travis Johnson to Mike Stanton, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame football players have started fall practice by going through a tradition of sleeping in the gym for several days while getting to know teammates and dealing with the aches and pains of two-a-days.

They’re fed as if they are on vacation, thanks to dedicated parental volunteers, culminating with a prime rib dinner that would make patrons of Lawry’s feel jealous. Yes, there are some advantages in being a private school, and the biggest is parental involvement.

Whenever I’m in town, I never miss the prime rib dinner. The food is delicious, but more important, I get to see whether a team has truly started to come together and gain insight as to who the next top players will be from a program that keeps producing good athletes and good people.

Coach Kevin Rooney, in his 31st season, knows plenty about Xs and Os, but it’s the way he tries to develop and prepare his players for the future that really sets him apart. The Knights find a way to have fun but also stay serious in what they’re trying to accomplish.

This year’s team won’t enter the season ranked anywhere close to some of the teams of the past, but beware. There’s a group of outstanding young players whose names will soon be known, players such as sophomores Nick Holland and J.J. Muno and junior Brandon Jett.

Here’s a video from the Knights’ Friday-night football tradition:

-- Eric Sondheimer