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Turf honors 'Air Coryell' Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Apr 23 2011 12:00 PM

Donald David Coryell always said, "It's all about the kids."

Tuesday, the National City branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego dedicated Coryell field to his family.

The ceremony was held to commemorate the legendary head coach of the San Diego State Aztecs, St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison presented the Coryell family with a proclamation declaring Tuesday as Don Coryell Day in National City. They also held a traditional ribbon cutting ceremony to complement the occasion.

"Thanks to a lot of people's help we have this wonderful facility for the city of National City," Morrison said.

Morrison said the club is alive and thriving thanks to the Coryell family, which encouraged numerous volunteers to come together for the betterment of the community.

Coryell became involved with the Boys & Girls Club to honor his longtime friend Wayne Sevier and to carry on his effort to promote healthy lifestyles in the community.

Sevier was always quick to credit the Boys & Girls Clubs in National City, where his sports career began and he spent most of his youth.

Coryell became head coach at San Diego State in l961 and Sevier was his first starting quarterback, helping lead the Aztecs to their first California Collegiate Athletic Association title in l962.

At SDSU Coryell had a record of 104 wins, 19 losses and two ties including three undefeated seasons. His teams also won three bowl games during his tenure and he helped lead SDSU from an NCAA Division II to an NCAA Division I program in 1969.

Coryell also helped develop a number of quarterbacks for the NFL, including Don Horn, Jesse Freitas, Dennis Shaw and future NFL MVP Brian Sipe.

San Diego Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner said that many coaches and players have been affected by Coryell's coaching style, which is why he is trying to get his name inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"He was a high energy guy and an energetic person," Turner said of Coryell. "He has a philosophy of how to play the game - they (the players) knew the commitment and that's where it starts."

Coryell passed away in La Mesa in July last year, but helped net more then $500,000 for the organization, which works with youth ages 5 to 18 and serves the entire National School District, with some 140 youth attending the club daily.

Frank Parra has been on the board of the National City Boys & Girls Club for 12 years.

"To me, it's (the club) an integral part of National City for after school activities to give kids somewhere to go," he said.

For 63 years, the National City branch has provided youth with a safe place to go after school. After school and day camp programs include the arts, recreation, character development and youth sports leagues.

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