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Fall means high school football

Norm and Alan Nicholls
Caring About Truckee

Wham bam, fall is here. The days are shorter, the nights are colder, the leaves are turning and the number of visitors to our area is declining. The merchants call it “shoulder season.” The rest of us call it peaceful.

Another fall tradition in Truckee is Wolverine football. The popularity of this sport in Truckee goes way back and is in the blood of many of our full-time residents. Many of our students who have played high school football in Truckee were first acquainted to the game as toddlers watching their older brothers playing at Surprise Stadium.

Wolverine Pride is contagious and has become a tradition.



In the early ’80s the Truckee and North Tahoe High Schools changed from the California “Pioneer” league and became a part of the Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association (NIAA). Not everyone supported the change since it added a lot of miles for our student athletes to travel for games. But our high schools quickly became forces to be reckoned with in the league.

One of my fondest memories of Truckee football was when I took Alan (then 9 years old) and his sister Christy to the league championship game at Surprise Stadium in November of 1983. Although Truckee had achieved a better league record, the visiting Manogue Miners were favored by many to take the game and to move on to the state championship game.



By game time, it was about 38 degrees, and it was “rowing” (half rain, half snow). The weather was miserable. Alan, Christy and I were bundled up in our ski gear, and we took down the shower curtain at our house to take to the game to help keep us dry.

Prior to the game I noticed that Bill Churchman, Don Smith and a few other fathers were setting up space heaters on the Wolverine side line. During the game our Wolverines stayed warm and somewhat dry, while Manogue’s players were cold and wet throughout the whole ordeal. Their coaches had arrived to the game in shorts and polo shirts and were definitely worse off than the players.

Ultimately, Truckee prevailed and earned the right to go to the NIAA Division AA championship game in Elko the next weekend.

The weather the following week did not get much better and by the time the team and Truckee’s faithful supporters had made the 300 mile trek to Elko, there was approximately a foot of snow on the playing field, and it was still snowing.

While crews were using tractors and shovels to partially clear the field, out came Bill, Don and the rest of their entourage with the space heaters. Truckee beat the heavily favored Elko team and earned their “first” NIAA Division II Football Championship. The rest is history.

Also marking that first year was Bill Churchman and Al Salas entering the booth at Surprise Stadium to do the play-by-play announcing. They continue to do so today with Bill doing the talking and Al doing the spotting. That’s 23-plus years of commitment to the youth of Truckee.

Their kids are now adults with children of their own. With good health, and God willing, they just may be doing the play-by-play for their grandchildren and the children of their sons’ teammates. Thanks guys. You are very special, and I am proud to call you my friends.

The answer to last column’s question, “What was the name of the little flower shop that was tucked into the southwest corner of the building at 10104 Commercial Row?” Ron’s San Francisco Flowers.

Dave Borgmeyer (our early bird winner) and Tom Meggett were close friends of “Ron” Kurtz. They recall that Ron moved to Truckee in the mid-70s from San Francisco and started out as a tennis pro at Squaw Valley. In the early ’90s he decided it was time for him to move on ” to Kauai, where he lives today. He continues to be a tennis pro and sells time shares.

Other players who correctly answered last week’s question include: Ray Craig, Jessica Candler, Tim Keltner, Tom Meggett, Paul Spencer, Jim Maas, Val Kelly, Bill Zahn, Mary Delisle (who, by the way, celebrated her 86th birthday on Sept. 3!), Steve Rademacher, Julie Pratt, Jeanette and Mark Harrigan, Barbara Brill, and Gordy Kjer. Thanks for playing and thanks to Leah Krone for coming up with the question. Your names have all been put in the pot for December’s drawing.


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