Hollister Vikings write that Hollister is a football town with years of tradition.

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Hollister California is a wonderful cozy little town where everyone seems to know everyone. Stories of friendships and family keep our community together. When you think of the Hollister community and sports, you have to understand that this community has a lot of athletes and traditions.

From baseball, basketball and wrestling to softball, track and field, boxing and now MMA. But none fully brings the community together like Hollister football. Hollister is a football town.

As a child, we played football all over town. Some neighborhoods had concrete warriors playing aggressive two-handed touch on the streets while others living near schools took to the grass fields to experience or relive the contact and camaraderie of a game unparalleled in the heart of our Hollister community.

Thanksgiving games have been played for years with older players making the transition as new and younger members join the ranks. The tradition of turkey balls is beyond my memory as my dad played and remembered previous balls in high school.

Growing up in the 80s-90s, there was nothing better than playing football. Everyone had a favorite player and team and idolized and replayed their favorite pieces when they got together with friends. Wilson soccer balls were the most common at the time until big companies started to realize the demand for soccer balls.

Nerf Turbo soccer balls designed to be thrown further, some with built-in whistles, would be thrown at schools like Sunnyslope, Calaveras, RO Hardin and Rancho San Justo. Teams were selected at the start of recess or break, and play would continue until yard duties threatened to take the ball if we did not return to class.

As dedicated fans of the sport, we don’t risk losing football and retiring to our designated classes at this time. Of course “The game must continue” and it would continue during lunch or after school as the saying goes! As much as we all loved different professional teams and players, we all loved Hollister Haybalers football.

There was nothing better than going to a home game at Andy Hardin Field and seeing the crimson and ivory uniforms of the Balers. It was amazing to see the lights come on on a Friday night. It was like you could see the lighting from anywhere in the city.

The smell of the fresh grass surrounded by the dirt road would let you know it was game day while the aroma of the tri-tip and burgers kitchen at Balers Barn would let you know you were at the House. Everyone in the community would be there to applaud the “Balers” as we still do now.

You would, and still see, the old Balers come back to the sidelines wearing their Letterman jackets to show their support for the new Balers while also demonstrating the importance of what Balers football means to this community. “Once a baler, always a baler” is the feeling we had at Hollister on Friday night.

While there had always been dreams of playing football for the Balers, there was never a guarantee that one would dress and play when they got to high school. Fortunately, for the youngsters in this community, Hollister Pop Warner was available and those lucky enough to dress in purple and gold would give them the chance to show their value to Balers coaches when it was time to swap their helmets.

Until then, the Vikings would also bring Andy Hardin Field home on Saturday and Sunday, according to the schedule, and begin the true love of Hollister football as the Vikings. Vikings football has set a standard for sustainability, knowledge and experience.

Seeing Viking jerseys at school and having the privilege of wearing one was prestige. Vikings players in school have always been picked early for teams and this has carried over to higher levels. The Vikings have stood out when it comes to toughness, football IQ, and understanding what is needed to get into the starting lineup.

The Haybaylers starters, were the Vikings starters first!

Many people can attest to the benefits of Pop Warner, as well as what he does for the Hollister Haybalers community and football. Pop Warner gives young people an outlet and a positive way to let aggression escape in a controlled setting while learning teamwork, leadership and respect for authority.

As a Viking coach for many years, I have seen a few of my former players confidently transition to Balers football with the goal of playing in college. Many Vikings / Balers are now playing in college, whether it’s a two-year transfer or straight to a four-year college. This year’s Balers Varsity squad had many Vikings players, of different ages and grade levels, all able to contribute throughout the game or as needed.

All are waiting and ready to compete like they did for years before Balers football. Many have been dressing since the age of 5 or 6. High school graduates you and Balers football gives you stats and movies, but it’s Vikings football that instills academics before athletics and prepares them mentally and physically for the grueling challenge of Hollister football.

Based on the understanding of where it all begins, many Vikings / Balers players return to train the next generation of Vikings as they know the importance of tradition and giving back to the community we all love. Some as fathers, some as brothers and some as good mentors with no connection to the team other than a desire to teach and coach the cultural understanding of Hollister football.

They’re the ones who know what it’s like to get dressed and they know which helmet is initiating the process. Hollister Pop Warner is rooted in our community because our grandfathers, fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins ​​were once Vikings.

Most are still seen on the sidelines wearing red and white Letterman jackets at Balers home games while remembering the ‘VKA’ chant of yesteryear. An understanding that it all starts with a child’s dream and the support of a family and organization willing to teach, train and motivate them to shine in the Friday night lights.

San Benito High is not only the home of the Haybalers, but it is also the heart of Hollister Vikings football. Traditions aim to keep a culture alive.

From purple and gold to red and white, our players learn, train and play to trade our horns for H.

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