By Brynn Gibson
Local News Editor
The following quotes are from an email interview with Mike Navrides, an LGHS math teacher and announcer at the Nov. 26 CCS football championship between St. Francis and Junipero Serra High School. During the game, a shooting in the parking lot left two injured.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you heard gunfire? Did you think it was shots fired or something else?
A: I actually did not hear the gunshots from the public address announcers booth. I was with Mr. Ceran (he’s my spotter) and Randy Frey (he’s our softball coach and he was the clock operator for the game), and none of us heard anything. With 2:18 left in the game, Serra had just scored a touchdown to take the lead, 16-12. Suddenly, I saw several of the St. Francis parents stand up and they started saying something and pointing; they had very concerned looks on their faces. I was uncertain of what they were saying and if they were trying to get my attention until I heard somebody say something about gunshots being heard outside the stadium. I immediately contacted Tom Gersey (he was the CCS site director for the game) and asked him to come to the PA booth immediately.
Q: Describe the situation. What was going on in your head?
A: At this point, I was stuck because I had not heard anything from any CCS official or SJ Police Officer as to exactly what happened or what was going on. I said nothing over the PA system (yet) because I had zero facts as to what happened and I didn’t want to say anything that might be incorrect or [might] cause people to panic. I finally heard that there was an “incident” outside the stadium and I asked everyone to remain calm (I continuously asked people to remain calm) and that I would inform them when I was told something. Personally, I felt very calm and didn’t feel like anyone inside the stadium was in any kind of danger.
Shortly thereafter, many students in the St. Francis student section started to panic and were leaving their seats, walking to the bottom of the bleachers. I sensed this could cause more panicking and at that point I got on the PA system and informed everybody to return to their seats and to remain calm (I asked them to remain calm two or three times) as things were safe inside the stadium. With the help of some St. Francis parents and administrators, the students listened and returned to their seats. The St. Francis football players, as well as several of the referees, were laying on the ground on the St. Francis sideline, while the Serra players were running to the east end of the field, as was the directive of their head coach.
Q: What information did you receive from the police and CCS officials following the gunfire? What did you instruct the stadium to do?
A: I was eventually told by a CCS official exactly what had happened and what was going on in the parking lot and I informed the crowd at [that] time. The SJ Police Officers had to look into every car and below every car to make sure there was not anybody still there. With 5,600 people in attendance, this took quite some time. But people in the stadium seemed to be calm at this point, understanding that any real trouble was outside the stadium and we were all safe inside the stadium. I kept my voice calm and confident (at least I tried to) when I spoke to make sure everyone was informed as to what was happening and for them to realize that there was absolutely no reason to panic.
Despite me not receiving any information for a while right at the start, I felt our entire CCS team did a great job handling what could have been a volatile situation. The CCS Commissioner (Dave Grissom) was in the parking lot with the SJ Police Chief and he was communicating with Tom Gersey (site director), who was informing me what was going on and I, in turn, informed the crowd and players. Another CCS official came up to talk to me a bit later, stating that once the “all clear” was given by the police, the teams would be given five minutes to warm up and then the game would resume.
While everybody in the stadium was a bit shaken, we were able to eventually relax, understanding that we were all safe. I like to think that I had a small part in making sure people did not panic, but I could not do my job without the help of the rest of the CCS team.
I have announced several hundred CCS events over the past 20 years, and this will go down as the most memorable for two reasons. First, it was one of the most exciting CCS championship games I have ever announced for any sport, between two outstanding teams. And unfortunately, it will also be remembered for a night that could have been a tragic one, but thankfully was not for all in attendance.
Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.