After a record-breaking season, four players from the California School for the Deaf, Riverside, were invited to Sunday’s game as honorary captains.
Minutes before the Super Bowl gets underway on Sunday, four high school students from Riverside will be standing on the field in the glare of the national spotlight.
The National Football League, which invited them to take part in the coin toss, is calling the teenagers “honorary captains.”
Trevin Adams, Christian Jimenez, Jory Valencia and Enos Zornoza are representing their teammates from the California School for the Deaf, Riverside, after a remarkable and record-breaking season. They will be wearing their Cubs uniforms.
“I don’t think I ever thought I would go to the Super Bowl,” Christian, an offensive lineman, said on Wednesday. “My parents have never had that experience. I’m 16 years old and I’m doing the coin toss. I don’t think anything is ever going to replace this.”
The boys, chosen because they were the captains of their team, will be part of a wider group of people witnessing the coin toss that Samantha Roth, an N.F.L. spokeswoman, calls an effort to focus on inclusion. The other participants will be announced on Friday, she said.
Early in the Super Bowl era, the coin toss was done by the referee; then football legends like Red Grange and Bart Starr were asked to participate. During some years the N.F.L. cast a wider net, inviting politicians and military veterans. Ronald Reagan flipped a coin remotely from the White House for Super Bowl XIX, which was held in the Bay Area. And last year the N.F.L. invited an intensive care nurse to do the honors.
Roth said the N.F.L. invited the deaf players this year because “they were defying stereotypes.” Two deaf artists will also be taking part in the halftime show.
For the players from Riverside, the journey from their parched and rutted field to the manicured turf at SoFi Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday has been a whirlwind.
When I first met the team in mid-November, they were undefeated but unheralded. An article about their achievements brought television cameras, the promise of Hollywood contracts and hordes of reporters. The governor’s office vowed to upgrade their playing fields and rusted bleachers. They went all the way to the championship but lost their final game.
This will be the second time they are honored at SoFi Stadium. They were guests of the Los Angeles Chargers in November and were featured on the stadium’s giant screens during the game.
But it goes without saying that a role in the Super Bowl festivities is something entirely different.
Just a few weeks ago, Trevin, the team’s quarterback, had been making plans to get together with some friends to watch the Super Bowl. Then in late January he was pulled aside by a member of the school’s administration and told about the invitation.
“I was in disbelief. I was like, ‘Is this a joke? You’ve got to be kidding me, right?’” he said. “It was amazement,” he said of his reaction at the time. “And then I felt so honored.”
His football team’s success is carrying over to other sports at the school. Both varsity basketball teams are having record seasons: The girls won their league championship for the first time since 1986, and the boys won their first since 1999. Both teams are now competing for Southern California titles.
The past 12 months have been extremely trying for many residents of Riverside, which is among the counties with the highest death rates from the coronavirus.
But Keith Adams, the coach, and his players at the California School for the Deaf talk about creating their own path, and their own destiny, amid the gloom.
“Fortitude was the word that was used by the coach,” Christian said. “And that just means forging ahead. You have to get through the adversity. There’s no red carpet through this life.”
Speaking through an American Sign Language interpreter, and with the tempo and the passion of a halftime locker-room speech, Christian summarized his journey during the pandemic.
“For me, 2021 was an amazing year,” he said.
The Asian American pipeline in figure skating.
Heat wave: Winter will look a lot like summer up and down California for the rest of the week as a heat wave builds, The Associated Press reports.
Small business relief: A package of bills signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday will give new tax cuts to businesses and relief to restaurants, The Sacramento Bee reports.
Super Bowl: The Los Angeles Rams hope to benefit from playing the Super Bowl at their home stadium in Inglewood.
Director diversity: A study from the University of Southern California found sustained progress for women and people of color working behind the camera in Hollywood.
Vaccine pressure: In a motion aimed at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, county employees who have not gotten vaccinated could be terminated from their positions.
Eric Kay trial: On Tuesday, federal prosecutors began to make their case that Kay supplied the drugs to Tyler Skaggs, the Los Angeles Angels pitcher, that led to his overdose.
Online learning: Los Angeles Unified schools are expanding remote learning options for the fall in preparation for unvaccinated students, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Offshore drilling: An Orange County legislator introduced a bill to end offshore oil production by 2024, The Los Angeles Times reports.
High-speed rail price hike: The statewide rail project could now take $105 billion to complete. Construction is already underway on a segment between Merced and Bakersfield, The Associated Press reports.
Oakland school closures: The Oakland school board voted to close seven schools over the next two years, part of a contentious cost-saving plan, Oakland North reports.
In response, the union representing public-school teachers in Oakland announced it would file a legal complaint against the district to try to prevent the closures, NBC Bay Area reports.
SFMOMA: Christopher Bedford has become the new director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Covid restrictions: Every Bay Area county, except for Santa Clara, will allow vaccinated people to be unmasked in most indoor settings, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Bacon-wrapped grilled chicken salad with avocado and lime.
Today’s travel tip comes from Danice Desaulniers, who recommends Pacific Grove, a coastal city near Monterey:
“One of the most gorgeous places. Walks along the bay, craggy rocks, beautiful often dramatic surf. And tide pools. Great neighborhood restaurants and coffee houses. Walk to the Monterey Bay Aquarium — such a wonderful place.”
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, we’re asking about love: not who you love, but what you love about your corner of California.
Email us a love letter to your California city, neighborhood or region — or to the Golden State as a whole — and we may share it in an upcoming newsletter. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
Peek into downtown Los Angeles of the 1930s with this restored video footage.
The cars and top hats make clear it isn’t present day, but the bustling intersections — and heavy traffic — are still easily recognizable.
Thanks for reading. We’ll be back tomorrow.
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Mother Earth (4 letters).
Soumya Karlamangla, Miles McKinley, Briana Scalia and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
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