What to call Hemet High stadium?


   The Hemet High deluxe athletic complex has an identity crisis. 

   Is it still John McDonough Stadium, the title for the facility beginning in 2007 thanks to a sponsorship fee paid by the Bank of Hemet? 

   Or should it be Von Driska Field, the new name that went up on the scoreboard in September to honor the late and beloved teacher and coach, Darrell Von Driska? 

   Emily Shaw, Hemet High principal, said the answer is simple 
. The stadium has one name; the field has another. Besides, people often call the complex something else. 

   The Bank of Hemet paid $100,000 in 2007 to name the facility after the late John McDonough, an esteemed community leader, generous donor 
to local charities and a founder of the financial institution. He died in 2005 at age 74, the year the stadium opened. 

   Hemet High football coaches, led by Bob Lopez, mounted a drive to name the field after Von Driska after his death a year ago from cancer. The 1957 Hemet High grad and football player spent a career teaching and coaching in Hemet. 

   He served as a board 
member of Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District for many years and was perhaps the San Jacinto Valley’s biggest booster of programs for kids and their cheerleader while attending a wide variety of athletic events. 

   Bank of Hemet officials stepped forward to make the deal after the Hemet Unified School District creatively offered to sell naming rights. Rather than naming the stadium after the financial institution, which would have had the promotional value intended in the school district’s offer, they chose to be classy and honored 
McDonough instead. 

   The $100,000 was earmarked for sports and fine arts programs. The deal was for five years and could have been extended. When it expired, the school district could have decided to keep the name or remove it to make the sponsorship offer again. 

   The issue has not been addressed. John McDonough’s name quietly 
stayed up. 

   Shaw said the coaches asked to name the field after Von Driska, not the stadium. She responded to the request for the field by following the school district’s process for naming facilities. Von Driska’s name quite appropriately was approved. It was prominently painted on the stadium’s big scoreboard, plus the years he coached, 1966 to 2013. 

   I suppose the school district should try to get more money from the bank. Why not? That’s what the sponsorship program is about. 
McDonough, by the way, did his good work quietly and humbly. He would have been embarrassed by a fuss about having his name on the stadium. So for now, people can call the complex by either title. To be honest, I really don’t hear either name used despite how prominently both are displayed. Most simply call it Hemet High Stadium, Hemet Stadium or The Stadium. 


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   The home of the Hemet High Bulldogs still displays John McDonough Stadium lettering even though the $100,000 sponsorship deal by the Bank of Hemet expired. 

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