With a raging local fire and the countless of hours first responders have put in to stop the blaze from affecting any more lives, both the Cabrillo and Lompoc high wrestling teams are now coming together to help honor the responders’ brave fight – and responders everywhere in the area.
Both Lompoc High assistant coach Fred Hayes and Cabrillo athletic director Dan Troup tell the Times that a “First Responders Night” is in the works, with the tentative date set for Jan. 10 at Lompoc High’s gym, Paisola Pavilion. The wrestling event will not only bring both Lompoc Valley teams together to grapple each other on the mat in a Los Padres League dual, but serve as an evening when past and present first responders will be honored.
Lompoc High assistant Fred Hayes, who works at the Lompoc penitentiary, is spearheading this event.
“We’re a military and farming community and in light of what’s going on, I think it’s important to pay tribute to our first responders past and present,” Hayes said by phone on Friday. “We deal with the worst of the worst. It (the ongoing Thomas Fire) just hits home. This event is a great way for our community to come together.”
Hayes said that the idea came from his former coach Rod Padilla, who coached up a young Hayes on the LHS wrestling mat in the late '80s and now coaches in Colorado.
The responder’s night already hits home for Conquistadores head coach Mike Wallace – who knows a thing or two about being a first responder – Wallace worked as a reserve firefighter for the City of Lompoc Fire Department.
“It’s a good idea to honor them. It’s a thankless job – and I know a little bit about it,” Wallace said by phone on Thursday, who also spent eight years in the U.S. Army. “I’m all for it. I told (LHS assistant coach) Fred Hayes I would help. I’m all supporting our first responders and military.”
Wallace adds that both sides are aiming to make this an annual event, with Cabrillo being the host site in 2019.
Hayes adds that all first responders – fire fighters, police officers, military, etc. – can attend for free, including retired first responders.
“Past and present – anyone can attend,” Hayes said.
Junior varsity matches will start at 5 p.m. on Bryan Ayer Court. The varsity contest will begin at 6 p.m, Hayes said.