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Valley Christian High’s Booster Club Serves Up the Perfect Football Sandwich

 

Barbeque loaded with tasty tri-tip for VC fans to enjoy courtesy the VC Football Booster Club and Dave and Faith Hogan.

 

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

 

November 8, 2022~The Valley Christian High football program has a longstanding history of tradition on the field, especially with former head coach Mike Wunderley and its players. But Friday nights are not limited to the games or even the family experience.

For over two and a half decades (the exact year is unknown), the school has offered tri-tip sandwiches as a culinary delicacy on its canteen menu, and its popularity has grown ever since. Sure, you can settle for the hot dogs, hamburgers and nachos that are sold at every high school football game. But former V.C. coaches Dave and Faith Hogan wanted to try something different when they took over the canteen in the mid-1990s. At the time, it was the customary snack bar food that was being sold and the Hogans did that for the first three weeks of the season before Dave Hogan, who was a football coach at the time, went to the high desert to scout opposing teams of V.C. It was at those schools where he noticed each one was selling tri-tip sandwiches at their games.

He went to the V.C. booster club and told them they could make a better sandwich by including tri-tip to the menu. After figuring out the cost of everything, the Hogans provided the booster club a breakdown of how much they could sell the sandwiches for and how they would be making a higher profit. It didn’t take long for the Hogans to get permission from the booster club, which is its own entity from the school.

“They’re autonomist to the school,” said Faith Hogan. “It’s parent-run; the booster club isn’t just a football booster club. It’s an all-sport booster club. The booster club here provides funds…the funds that they raise helps all the sports. As does most of the other clubs, at least in the past, most of the other organizations that support the school…they’re autonomist to the school. They’re part of the school, but they don’t have to get permission from the school.”

When the Hogans got the okay to sell the tri-tip sandwiches, the junior varsity games would precede the varsity games and as a trial run, they began with 35 pounds of the meat. Well, by the time the lower level game reached halftime, the tri-tip was sold out. Seeing the popularity in the sandwich, it went to 75 pounds. But even with that, the tri-tip would be gone by the start of the varsity game. Since then, the booster club has never been under 125 pounds, but has sold as much as 250 pounds in one night.

“What we also wanted to do, because our j.v. program was very good, was get families to come here, watch the j.v. game, not go out to dinner first and then come and eat whatever else we had,” said Faith Hogan. “We wanted them to come here, eat, watch the j.v.’s, because that’s the future of your program, and then watch the varsity.”

“What we did was we created the dinner,” added Dave Hogan. “You got the sandwich, potato salad, and baked beans on a plate. It just took off.”

Initially, the Hogans bought a four-foot round Weber grill, which Dave believed could hold 30 rows of the tri-tip at the time. They would slice it by hand, but he realized it wasn’t working. So, he bought a used electric slicer which is the same one being used today.

The initial reaction by everyone is what one would expect-they all loved it. Dave Hogan says it’s one aspect of building up the experience of being at V.C. on Friday nights. His wife continued to say it’s part of the community and it’s what made Friday nights so special.

“You had the kids playing behind the stands, you had the football team on the field, you had the season-seat holders in the stands,” Faith Hogan continued. “The community was all coming together. So, it made sense to provide them a good meal. We thought it would hurt our hamburger and hot dog sales. But it stayed the same.”

 

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Dave Hogan at the grill. Initially, the Hogans bought a four-foot round Weber grill, which Dave believed could hold 30 rows of the tri-tip at the time. They would slice it by hand, but he realized it wasn’t working so he bought a used electric slicer which is the same one being used today serving up 125 to 250 pounds of tri-tip every game.

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One way or another, all the tri-tip would be gone before the end of the night, whether it meant giving the leftovers to the players, or reducing the cost towards the end of the game. There was even a time in the late 1990s when the Hogans sold chicken sandwiches for those that didn’t eat red meat. They would take a chicken breast and marinate it overnight in 50 percent orange juice and 50 percent Italian dressing and make the sandwiches with that.

Since the Hogans retired from running the canteen around 2006, different managers would run it their ways, but the tri-tip sandwiches would always remain. Dave Hogan, who also coached track and field at V.C., went to Whittier College to become its track and field head coach. At that point, they knew it would be too much to coach at the junior college and run the canteen. Faith Hogan would manage the inside duties while Dave oversaw the outside operations. The only thing that has changed since the Hogans began selling the popular item has been the seasoning. Dave Hogan, who was the junior varsity football head coach, coached track and field at V.C. for 21 years while his wife coached track and field and freshmen volleyball, which was in the 1980s. Dave was inducted in the school’s Hall of Fame 10 years ago.

“It’s a fantastic product still to this day,” said Dave Hogan. “The seasoning is different, but so what? Everybody loves it. These guys do an incredible job; they really do and I’m very, very happy with them taking over.”

He would be referring to Aaron Ireland and John Jacobs as the fourth, or maybe, the fifth set of people to prepare the tri-tip sandwiches since the Hogans left. This is their first season working the outside operations of the canteen.

Ireland and Jacobs said the tri-tip is purchased on the Wednesday or Thursday prior to a home game. The rub, which consists of coarse black pepper, coarse salt, a little bit of paprika, parsley and a little bit of garlic, is put on Thursday night, then into the refrigerator and taken out Friday early afternoon where it’s put on the smoker around 2:00. It takes about an hour to cook, then put in the cooler to let the juices reduce before it’s time to slice. By 6:30, which is half an hour before kickoff, the sandwiches are ready to be purchased.

Even the feedback from opposing teams and those in attendance was one if interest, especially on a windy night. Dave Hogan remembers one night when V.C. was playing Orange Lutheran High, which was once an Olympic League rival, the smoke and aroma reached the Lancers side of the field.

“The coach comes over and says, ‘can’t you do something about that smoke’,” Dave Hogan recalled.

He would later say that the tri-tip business on Friday nights in the fall has created a tradition, which is a huge part of what Valley Christian is all about and is excited about the future of the business.

 

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