Sunday evening, Feb. 9, the Burton Recreational Center was abuzz with groups waiting for dinner to be served and the Rancho football team to receive annual awards and certificates. Attendees were bustling to greet parents and friends and excitement was in the air trying to presume who would receive certain awards.
Every team member who participated the majority of the football season received something; however, a first-year varsity received a pin and if they participated in two or more years, they received a blocked letter.
The blue folders, embossed in gold, contained a proclamation from the City of Rohnert Park signed by Mayor Joe Callinan, an all-league certificate that was voted by other coaches in the leagues and a certificate of participation.
A scholar athlete award was given for achieving a high point grade average during the football season and another a certificate was awarded that was voted on by the Ranch coaches.
The coveted memorial award was bestowed on one young man that the team considered was worthy of such a distinction and Orion Piombo was chosen. Piombo has integrity, always helps anybody in need, shows fellowship to all, respect for others, loyalty and excellent sportsmanship and ethics.
The meritorious distinction is called the Matt Walsh Memorial award. Daughter Claire presented the plaque to Piombo in honor of her father’s memory. Matt Walsh, who died July 6, 2001, was an astronomical fan of the Ranch football team and an active member of the Booster Club. The award is given by the Walsh family whom team members feel has the integrity and is respected by his peers.
Piombo’s name will be added to the plaque and it will be placed at the Rancho Cotate High School.