Rick’s Sports Corner: David Diamond, Staff, Lead Youth Football Team

Eleven youngsters went undefeated this season with the help of a wise coach and his gifted assistants.

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By Rick Assad

Getting the opportunity to play youth football is something eleven Burbank youngsters will never forget.

It also helps that the Burbank Broncos finished the season undefeated at 10-0 and outscored its opponents 254-18.

The players on the team include Suede Richer, who plays safety, cornerback, wide receiver and running back, Calvin Godfrey, a guard and defensive end, Jacob Dunham, who is the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, linebacker and defensive end.

Also on the squad are Chayse Walls, a running back, guard, defensive end and linebacker, Ashton Reyes, a tight end, guard, defensive lineman, kicker and punter and Owen Everhart, who plays quarterback, running back, cornerback, safety and kicker.

The rest of the members are Joshua Kelly Gonzalez, who plays wide receiver, tight end, linebacker, defensive end, kicker and punter, Troy Acosta, a running back, wide receiver and cornerback, Christian Mendoza, a wide receiver, cornerback and linebacker, Aiden Solarz, who toils at center, defensive line and linebacker and Zev Schwartz, a wide receiver, tight end and linebacker.

Leading these young men is David Diamond, a retired coach who has been involved in multiple sports for several decades and is a criminal defense attorney.

The Burbank Parks and Recreation Department has a flag football league and Diamond coaches the seventh and eighth grade division, eight-man team.

After the regular season, there is also a Southern California All-Star tournament. 

Diamond said it’s especially rewarding to be there for the youngsters.

“I love the opportunity to teach. I try to instill leadership traits in the kids as well as push them to find the strength within themselves to be leaders. I also learn from them,” he said. “This past year, having six of my former players return to coach with me has been the most rewarding experience of my life. We push players to help them succeed. I also remind them that sports are like life. You learn skills that will help you for the rest of your life. For example, sometimes a ref or umpire will make a bad call, but you have to roll with the punches, just like you may have a bad boss one day in the workplace. You must stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand.”

Diamond explained why he likes being on the sideline coaching.

“It gives me a chance to teach and take a break from the craziness of the everyday world,” he said. “There is nothing more rewarding than helping, even in a minor capacity, the growth of a student/athlete.”

The Burbank Broncos went undefeated this season and had Coach David Diamond and his staff to help them through the journey. (Photo courtesy David Diamond)

Diamond’s six assistant coaches are Zakk Estrada, Sunjoo Yoon, Eli Diamond, Jimmy Cafferty, Brenton Lewis and Daniel Edwards.

Estrada is coming off a Most Valuable Player season for the Burbank High football team where he Mr. Everything.

“For what I get out of it, it is the fun they share with the younger kids and tell them some helpful things that they could use in game time scenarios,” he said. “It could help.”

In a way, coaching younger players is something Estrada, who is the wide receivers and cornerbacks coach, had when he was younger.

“I help because they remind me of me when I was younger and I never really got that help when I was younger, so to give back what I never had and to share the information to help them really makes me happy to be back out there,” he said.

Yoon, a former Burbank football player and a star member of the Burbank debate team, relishes the opportunity to give back.

“I coach youth sports because I know how much it shaped me as a person,” he said. “I’m a first-generation immigrant and in the early years, navigating new grounds both culturally and linguistically was a challenge.”

Yoon, an honor student who has been admitted to Stanford University, said football helped make him become the person he is today.

“As trite as it might sound, football in middle school was a rare refuge for both of those problems. When you come from a family like mine, where your folks don’t speak English, you’re bound to grow up with an accent,” he said. “Even after it goes away, the confidence to speak up is non-existent. Playing on the Burbank Broncos, in my view, changed that on its face. It gave me space to be a leader, make lifelong bonds, and tread on responsibility. And what better way to assimilate than through the most quintessentially American pastime ever?”

Like so many, Yoon, who is the defensive line and quarterbacks coach, wants to give back because it makes him feel good.

“In that same vein, I know some of our kids haven’t had the easiest home life, and often they haven’t found a place to be themselves,” he said. “But over the past year, I’ve seen these kids grow in confidence just like I did, mature, pick each other up, and so much more. Perhaps this is all a roundabout way of wanting to pass on what was once given to me, but it’s how I view it.”

Coaching youth football has also filled a void for Yoon.

It’s all about having fun and making memories for the Burbank Broncos youth football team. (Photo courtesy David Diamond).

“While I knew I wouldn’t get any Division I offers, I did think that I could win the national debate championship on the high school level, which turned out to be true. I left sports to focus on debate full-time,” he said. “But as a senior, I realized part of me was missing. Coaching youth sports gave me my ‘full-circle’ moment, and bridged my two greatest interests – intellectual strategy and football.”

Eli Diamond, who is the co-captain of the Burbank boys’ golf team and is the defensive coordinator, thinks the time he coaches young players is immeasurable.

“I coach youth football because I want to be able to provide young athletes the same beneficial opportunities that I had when I was in the league,” he said. “Through helping the players on the team, I have gained a new perspective of teamwork and leadership that I was previously unaware of.”

Cafferty is a key member of the Burbank baseball team, is the ace of the pitching staff and loves his time with the team.

“I coach youth football to give back to my community and help out coach Dave who helped me when I played football,” said the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. “As this season progressed, I learned more and more about coaching and really discovered a love for doing it.”

Cafferty went on: “While coaching I got to see and help the team become better football players and better people. As a coach I got to connect with the team as well as teaching them everything I know about the game,” he noted. “The one lesson I learned was to make sure everyone on the team was having fun, game in and game out. Something that really made me feel good and successful as a coach is when one of the kids told me I was his mentor.”

Lewis, an honor student who is the running backs and cornerbacks coach, knows he’s making a difference.

“I coach youth football because it gives me the opportunity to take my learned experience from having played flag football and share it with the players I work with,” he said. “It also gives me the opportunity to spend time with my old teammates who also help coach and work with them to relive the flag football experience from a new perspective. I love being able to step onto the football field one more time with my old teammates and coach and being able to help our new team succeed with our prior success and experience.”

Lewis has a sense of pride knowing that he’s building young minds and bodies.

“Being a youth football coach is extremely fulfilling as I get to help the players improve their football skills and guide them to becoming better athletes,” he said. “I enjoy being able to pass my football experience onto the youth players and watch them grow better with every day of practice. I also get to relive my youth football experience through a new lens, as I now help coach the players who used to be in my position.”

Lewis continued: “Ultimately, I enjoy being able to spend time with my old teammates, head coach, and the players as we work to become a better football team week by week, as well as getting to know the players better and being able to relive the flag football experience once more,” he said.

Edwards is also on the Bulldogs’ baseball team and enjoys helping out in any way he can.

“I enjoy coaching youth football due mostly to coach Dave,” he said. “As he was my coach when I was a kid, I always enjoyed the environment he created and love to continue to bring the same energy and passion towards the kids we coach now.”

Edwards can see the joy on the young football players’ faces.

“I like to bring as much personality as possible into coaching the younger players,” he said. “As I have developed a lot of personality from Dave’s coaching in the past, I like to give some of myself to the players I coach now. Seeing them pick up on some of the phrases and demeanors we portray is very rewarding.”

At the end of the season the biggest question is whether the youngsters, Diamond or his coaching staff had more fun. It’s a tossup. 

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