Written By: Yazmin Alvarez
Before he was dubbed “the greatest complete player” in the NFL, Ronnie Lott was a standout athlete on the basketball court and the gridiron at Eisenhower High School.
On Thursday, May 10, the Rialto-raised former proballer was invited back to his high school alma mater for yet another recognition, the dedication of the state-of-the-art Ronnie Lott Stadium.
“Wow, it’s amazing,” Lott said walking into the stadium. I’m extremely humbled.”
Eisenhower High Principal Scott Sparks introduced Lott, “his childhood football hero” to the crowd sitting in the new bleachers, including some of Lott’s former classmates and dozens of dignitaries in attendance.
“This Hall of Famer sat in the same classrooms that you are sitting in today. He went to the same cafeteria that you go through every day. He proved to you that you can come from Rialto and be the best,” Sparks said.
As part of the dedication ceremony, Lott shared how his former coach at Ike, “Coach Christopher,” made a deep impression on his outlook in life.
He remenediced back to when his coach would play a speech given by General George Patton about how “you have to play to win.”
While Lott has seen success in the NFL playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders and the New York Jets, he still feels he has a lot of work to do.
“I’m still trying to win,” Lott said. “I’m still trying to make sure that each kid has a chance to win. I’m forever indebted to (coach).”
Lott also announced that on behalf on him and his wife, Karen, they would be granting a $1,000 scholarship to the top athlete at Eisenhower starting this year.
“We’ll be doing that every year for as long as I’m alive,” Lott said.
The stadium was approved by the Rialto Unified School District Board of Education after a $98 million school bond passed in 2010. The bond, Measure “Y”, was authorized to acquire, construct, and improve classrooms, and support facilities and increase student access to modern technology, according to RUSD.
The $7.3 million dollar stadium can seat 5,000, 4,000 home and 1,000 visitors, features a ticket sales area, concession stands, restrooms for both home and visitors, synthetic turf and field for year-round use, discus and shotput fields, energy efficient LED stadium lights, a state-of-the-art sound system and wireless scoreboard.