History of the Folsom Athletic Association

It began in 1979 with a small group of active and community-driven friends including George Econome. Richard Cantor, President of Folsom Chamber of Commerce created a sports committee of the chamber chaired by Phil Moeszinger. At that time, Roger Zittel, Chamber’s Manager provided the encouragement and resources of the chamber towards the support of the FAA. These active community members realized the economic and social values of creating a parks and recreation system and were determined to institute one for Folsom.

In a single year, this committee accumulated many more like-minded members, and thus, they metamorphosed into the Folsom Athletic Association (FAA). Today, nearly forty years after its formation, the FAA is home to over 200 board members who support more than 10,000 young athletes spread throughout Folsom’s various youth sports leagues.

Throughout the next four decades, the Parks and Recreation Department, the FAA and the Friends of Folsom Parkways collaborated to adorn Folsom with over forty-five miles of scenic bike and walking trails, over a dozen youth sports leagues, and forty-seven community parks! Because of the FAA founding members’ passion for sports, love for recreation, and dedication to the community, Folsomites today are witness to the aftermath of this tight-knit group of friends who transformed a shared vision into reality.

How it Began … Who We Are

1979 FOUNDING FATHERS

  • Don Andrich (1st President)
  • George Econome (1st Vice President, 2nd President)
  • Bill Bonham (3rd President, established non profit 501c3)
  • John Handy (4th President)
  • Bob Mange (5th President)
  • Dave Benevento (6th President)
  • Chuck Leroy (7th President)
  • Mo Elliott
  • Tom Doherty
  • Nick Econome
  • Craig Burnett
  • Steve Toney
  • Roger Zittle
  • Jerry Jones
  • Phil Moeszinger
  • Don Reid
  • Pete Pepito
  • John Vance

FOLSOM PARKS

There were three parks prior to the establishment of the FAA:

Folsom City Lions Park – Lions Club – Folsom Prison Acquisition

Lew Howard Park – Rotary Club – Sacramento County Gift

Garden Park – Garden Club – City of Folsom Road Realignment

Lembi Community Park was acquired by the FAA through a donation from the Natomas Land and Mining Company.

28 parks have been completed since Lembi Park with the help of the FAA, Parks & Recreation Commission, and Folsom City Council. 16 mini parks, 9 neighborhood parks, 3 community parks.

There are 12 unfinished parks, 11 undeveloped parks, 1 proposed legacy park, 1 proposed regional park.

Information from 2016

DATE RECREATION DEPARTMENT

In just several years after its establishment, the FAA accomplished two groundbreaking projects that were fundamental in Folsom’s growth and the city’s increasing focus on health and wellness. Firstly, the FAA turned its dream into reality by creating the Recreation Department for the City, which evolved into the Parks and Recreation Department that we know and love today.

1982 LEMBI PARK

Secondly, the FAA conceptualized, fundraised for, and constructed the popular thirty-acre Lembi Park. George Econome, Roger Zittel, and John Handy served as the project leaders and collaborated with the other FAA members and over fifteen partners representing construction and engineering companies. This large group of colleagues, known as the Blue Ribbon Committee, named the park in honor of one of its members, Dante P. Lembi, who played an integral role by obtaining the land for the park’s development. Lembi Park has since been nicknamed “Home of the FAA” to represent the birthplace of the trailblazing FAA that had already begun to inspire the community and initiate Folsom’s health movement.

The FAA was instrumental in setting up the Lembi Park snack bar concession stand that has raised more than $75,000 for youth groups.

Partnership between the City of Folsom, Folsom Cordova Unified School District, and the FAA

1965 JOINT USE AGREEMENT

Historic records show that early founders understood the benefits of collaboration and laid the foundation for the Joint Use Agreement.

Amos P. Catlin, Richard Garbett “R.G.” Smith and William “Ed” Mitchell are three of many community activists who understood the importance of quality schools and the value of parks have on the community. Along with hundreds of other civic-minded individuals, they laid the foundation for what has become a statewide model Joint Use and Operational Agreement.

As a Park Commissioner, Ernie successfully assisted in the development of the joint use agreement between the Folsom Cordova Unified School District and the City of Folsom. As an example this included the City of Folsom paying to raise the ceiling in the elementary school’s multipurpose rooms allowing them to be utilized as small gyms, which greatly added more usable facilities to the cities inventory. This agreement allowed for over 233 facilities to be used for the city’s programs and community youth sports leagues.

1992 ADOPT-A-FACILITY

In addition, Ernie created the Adopt a Facility program which brings together all youth sports representatives, city maintenance and school district representatives to take care of facility problems. Fees collected by youth sports groups are then voted upon by the group to be put to use to enhance facilities.

2000 OPERATIONAL AGREEMENT

The Operational Agreement between the city and district serves as a supplement to the Joint Use Agreement and provides a mechanism to monitor, refine, modify, and evaluate the on-going operational issues.

2004 DELIVERY SERVICE PLAN

As recreational programs, sports teams, and athletic leagues spiked in popularity, most facilities and fields have reached their capacity despite the efforts of park planning and development. In 2004, a guiding tool was created to meet the short-term and long-term recreational and sports facility needs of the community. The policies and procedures of the Service Delivery Plan provides the structure for Folsom Parks & Recreation, Folsom Cordova Unified School District, the Folsom Athletic Association, and Community Youth Sports Leagues to partner on the implementation of best practices.

Parks and Facilities

1982 LEMBI PARK

Secondly, the FAA conceptualized, fundraised for, and constructed the popular thirty-acre Lembi Park. George Econome, Roger Zittel, and John Handy served as the project leaders and collaborated with the other FAA members and over fifteen partners representing construction and engineering companies. This large group of colleagues, known as the Blue Ribbon Committee, named the park in honor of one of its members, Dante P. Lembi, who played an integral role by obtaining the land for the park’s development. Lembi Park has since been nicknamed “Home of the FAA” to represent the birthplace of the trailblazing FAA that had already begun to inspire the community and initiate Folsom’s health movement.

The FAA was instrumental in setting up the Lembi Park snack bar concession stand that has raised more than $75,000 for youth groups.

1985 PARK AND RECREATION MASTER PLAN

During Ernie’s tenure as park Commissioner, he partnered with his fellow park and recreation commissioners in drafting the city’s first comprehensive park and recreation master plan. They received valuable input from the Folsom Teen Council. To implement this plan he successfully guided the adoption of the Park Land Dedication ordinance and the city’s first Park improvement Fee. This allowed the city to receive park land and ensure the funds would be available to build them. Ernie found numerous creative ways to raise over a million dollars to help leverage city assets and grant funds to build the aquatic center and northern California’s first multiuse synthetic football field, a lighted soccer field and 2 lighted softball fields at Livermore community park.

1996 ERNIE SHELDON PARK

Ernie was recognized as early as 1996 when the city council named a youth sports complex after him and the Ernie Sheldon Park was named in his honor. Ernie’s accomplishments were also recognized in 2002 when he was named California’s Outstanding Park Commissioner. Earlier this year he was awarded Champion of the Community by the California Parks and Recreation Society. He also received the Presidential award from the California Association of Parks and Recreation Commissioners.

2001 AQUATIC CENTER

Was instrumental in establishing the Folsom Aquatic Center.

2004 FOLSOM SPORTS COMPLEX

Was instrumental in establishing the Folsom Sports Complex.

2007 SENIOR AND ARTS CENTER

Was instrumental in preserving the decommissioned fire station to be used for a Senior and Arts Center.

2007 FOLSOM PUBLIC LIBRARY

As a former library commissioner and one of the original directors of the Friends of the Folsom Library, Ernie and the FAA played a key role in partnering with the Folsom Library Commission in identifying City Lions Park as the best location for a new state-of-the-art library. The result of this project included the addition of a flag court honoring all branches of the military.

DATE OTHER LAND ACQUISITIONS

DATE LIVERMORE PARK PROJECT - PHASE 4

The FAA was instrumental in building phase 4 of the Livermore Park Project. This project was to install a synthetic turf field, two lighted softball fields, the overlay of the turf field to be used for soccer, football, and lacrosse, and stadium seating. The cost would be covered by donations:

  • Angelo Tsakopoulos $259,999Jim Carlson $50,000Folsom Soccer Club $100,000Girls Softball $100,000 over the yearsFolsom Jr. Eagles $50,000Youth football $100,00 over the years (haven’t paid yet)Lacrosse needs to raise $50,000

Scholarships

1980's YOUTH ASSISTANCE SCHOLARSHIP FUND

Ernie helped establish the Youth Assistance Scholarship Fund by securing a $25,000 donation from Angelo Tsakopoulos on the assumption that the FAA could match that amount. The amount was soon matched and today that fund sits at $145,000 and has been used to pay for over $80,000 in scholarships allowing hundreds of children to participate in programs they might not have been able to do.

LOIS B. YOUNG SCHOLARSHIP

Lois B. Young Scholarship – Lois Young was an early board member who guided the FAA financially utilizing her professional skill as a public certified accountant. In recognition of her dedicated community service, the FAA provides scholarships to high school graduating athletes.

KEN GROSSFELD MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP

Ken Grossfeld Memorial Scholarship – former Past Folsom American Little League President, Folsom Park Commissioner and Chairman with a passion for the little league program. Ken and his wife Jennifer believed so strongly in the value of athletics that they established a scholarship fund in Ken’s honor.

2007 SUMMER KEMPTON MEMORIAL SPORTS FUND

2007: Summer Kempton Memorial Sports Fund – Summer Kempton was an excellent student, earning a number of academic honors and excelled at all sports, but her first love was soccer. Because of her passion for soccer, her family and friends established a scholarship, in Summer’s honor, to provide financial support for kids to ensure no Folsom child, who wants to play soccer, is denied that opportunity due to lack of family resources.

2010 RACE SALAZAR MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP

2010: Race Salazar Memorial Scholarship – Race grew up in Folsom, CA playing sports. At the age of 18, he suffered a life-ending heart arrhythmia in his sleep. The Salazar family and friends have made it their mission to help educate parents, teachers, coaches, students, and the community what they learned about Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SADS). Race’s life continues to have profound meaning and is honored through the Race Salazar Memorial Scholarship.

2015 MARIA TOTUSHEK MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP

2015: Maria Totushek Memorial Scholarship – Maria Totushek was an admired Folsom community member with a passion for soccer and a heart for the youth who desired to play it. Although Maria’s passion and generosity cannot be replaced, the FAA wishes to honor her memory with this annual athletic scholarship.

2017 CHUCK HARRISON 'PACE' MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP

2017: Chuck Harrison “PACE” Memorial Scholarship – Chuck worked with numerous civic groups and organizations helping to build facilities and programs that truly enriched the lives of thousands of people. It is in his spirit that the Chuck Harrison “Keeping the PACE” Memorial Scholarship was established.

2017 PROJECT VISION / 2020 Ernie Sheldon Legacy Fund and Scholarship

Project Vision received its first donation from Michael Tudesko ($1,200). [Who is Michael?  What was his relation to Ernie/FAA?  Why did Michael donate the money?  Is Michael ‘Tudesko Ranches’?]

$60,000 was donated to the FAA by the Estate of Madeline Mosley. Madeline passed away in October 2016. She was a special advisor to the Folsom City Council and was involved in many activities with the FAA. She was well known throughout the city for her historical knowledge of Folsom and her effort to preserve the historical land, trails, and open space.

FAA Programs and Sponsored Events

1979 MONDAY NIGHT BINGO

 

DATE GREAT SNAIL RACE

The Great Folsom Snail Race was a chamber of commerce fundraising event centered on businesses. When the FAA agreed to take it over, Ernie changed it from a business competition to a children and family event. Ernie would go to every elementary school and supervise race heats with the winners invited to the weekend main contest. On the day of the main event, there were carnival games, prizes, trophies and food. FAA raced snails for 10 years. As part of the agreement when taking over the race, the Lois Young High School Scholarship fund was continued with proceeds from the Snail Race. This scholarship was given to outstanding high school seniors based on their GPA and participation in sports. Even though we do not race snails anymore the scholarship fund continued and grew to include more scholarships. Today there are 3 memorial scholarships awards and 9 scholarships to each of the Folsoms 2 high schools. There are also 2 memorial scholarship funds that provide uniforms and equipment for youth in need for little league and soccer. Ernie also participated in almost every scholarship interview and was awed by the talented seniors.

1990's FIREWORKS

When the FAA started selling fireworks in the 1990s, Ernie was quick to get involved. From organizing the initial paperwork to apply for booth locations, to having the groups work together as one instead of competing against each other, and dividing the volunteer hours equitably. Ernie was instrumental in helping the endeavor  be a success. During the 7 day selling period Ernie would work 14 -16 hours per day. He could be found at the booth in front of the now Dicks store, where he would help manage the booth. He was so committed that he would have meals at the then IHop so he could watch the booth. He loved talking to the different shifts of volunteers as this gave him an opportunity to find out about any sorts of community or sport clubs issues. If he did find issues, he would try and solve the problem. Ernie was a fixer.

1992 LEMBI PARK CONCESSION

In 1992, the FAA was asked to operate the concession at Lembi Park. This program was designed to:

  • Provide a quality convenient service to our athletes.
  • Provide 10% of the gross proceeds to the city’s renovation fund through the Adopt a Facility program.
  • Allow our adopted community youth sports leagues the opportunity to volunteer at the concession as a fundraiser for their league or club.

1994 EASTER EGG EXTRAVAGANZA

Ernie loved seeing happy children and he enjoyed sitting at the FAA booth giving out raffle tickets during the Folsom Easter Egg Extravaganza. The prizes included baskets that were assembled by a few volunteers with items Ernie had shopped for. Ernie loved to shop.

1994 TRAIL DAYS

The FAA partnered with the Friends of the Folsom Parkway for the city’s first Trail Days in developing the first mile of trail for Folsom. This led to the hiring of a full time trail planner. Today Folsom enjoys close to 50 miles of trails.

2000 VETERANS DAY PARADE

The Veterans Day Parade was started by one person, Wayne Spence who marched alone with an American flag. Ernie saw this and with the FAA and the city subsequent parades became bigger every year to where there were over 3,000 participants and 10,000 observers during the last parade.

Ernie and the FAA led the effort to expand Folsom’s Veterans Day Parade, making it one of the largest in the region. He also spearheaded the planning, construction, and design of the city’s Veterans Memorial in City Lions Park, behind the library.

TURKEY TROT

DATE FOLSOM TEEN COUNCIL

The Folsom Teen Council is made up of high school students living in Folsom. These students volunteer and provide leadership services at a variety of City of Folsom special events and assist students in the STARS program at Theodore Judah.

The Teen Council has been instrumental in facility designs for the development of the Cummings Family Skate and Bike Park and the Steve Miklos Aquatic Center.

In collaboration with the city the FAA helps manage the Folsom Teen Council operation account.

2017 FOLSOM RUNWAY

Folsom Runway supports children with a variety of special needs so that they can participate in the same camps and activities through the City of Folsom’s Parks & Rec program that their non-disabled peers do. The FAA partnered with the City of Folsom for this annual fashion show – a fundraiser for recreational inclusionary programs.

2017 SENIOR HOLIDAY GIFTS PROGRAM

The FAA was involved with monetary donations for Christmas baskets put together by various individuals and groups due to Ernie’s urging. Karen Oosterman and Powerhouse Ministries organizes the program each year. Bags and baskets are delivered to assisted-living facilities, mobile home parks, veterans groups and seniors who live in their own homes.

“The purpose of the program is simple: put a bag together containing life’s most needed items, items we take for granted every day. Ernie didn’t care if you lived on top of the hill, at the bottom of the hill or around the hill. He loved the Folsom community and he loved the senior center and contributed to it often.”

In 2020, over 650 bags and baskets were delivered to Folsom’s low income, disabled and home-bound seniors, and veterans. Matt Long from the Folsom Telegraph published an article about the program: Holiday gift bags bring smiles to Folsom seniors.

Groups involved: Folsom, Vista del Lago, and Oak Ridge high schools, FAA, Folsom Rotary Club, local residents, to name a few.

The FAA also hosted an annual holiday party, almost always at Ernie’s house, where Ernie could display his extensive Christmas decorations. Ernie loved Christmas! He was a giver from buying presents for FAA board members to contributing to various organizations.

Ernie Sheldon (1934-2020)

1987 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Ernies desire to help was to become a member of and then Executive Director of the Folsom Athletic Association in 1987. He has been the Executive Director for the past 30 years. The FAA was established in 1979 with 3 goals: Create a united voice when lobbying, building facilities, and encouraging recreation through scholarships for those that were unable to afford participate. Ernie took this to heart. He encouraged youth groups to work together and speak in unison and on one issue at a time so as not to overwhelm city councils. By doing this each youth group would benefit over time and this turned out to become true.

1996 ERNIE SHELDON PARK

Ernie was recognized as early as 1996 when the city council named a youth sports complex after him and the Ernie Sheldon Park was named in his honor. Ernie’s accomplishments were also recognized in 2002 when he was named California’s Outstanding Park Commissioner. Earlier this year he was awarded Champion of the Community by the California Parks and Recreation Society. He also received the Presidential award from the California Association of Parks and Recreation Commissioners.

2020 HOME HEALTH SUPPORT FOR ERNIE

Feb 2020 – Looking to put together a professional and medical team of our community members that might be willing to volunteer their time to help. Dietitian, Occupational Therapist, and a Physical Therapist. Our effort is to supplement the home health care that his insurance will provide in a way to expedite his recovery and to support his family and dedicated care givers.

Youth Basketball – provided shower improvements and installed handrails.

Sep 2020 – board members gathered to build a ramp for wheel chair access in and out of Ernie’s home. FAA funded the project.

Lunch – gathered with ?? and talked about the beginning of the FAA.

2020 ERNIE SHELDON

Ernie Sheldon a retired Lt. Col from the US Air Force after 33 years of service, moved to Folsom in 1985. Shortly after his arrival to Folsom, Ernie dropped into the newly formed recreation division office and its first employee Lynn LePage and asked a simple question. “ Can I help”?

Appointed to the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission which he served for two decades, including many years as chairman.

Folsom had 4 parks when Ernie arrived all built by community organizations. Today, largely due to his vision, tireless leadership and persistent lobbying, Folsom has 48 parks and a large compliment of recreational facilities.

Former Library Commissioner, Ernie was one of the original directors of the Friends of the Folsom Library. He played a key role with the Folsom Library Commission in identifying City Lions Park as the site for the state of the art Public Library which included a Library Courtyard. He also spearheaded planning, design and construction of the Veterans Memorial behind the library with a statue honoring the soldier the previous field was named after and a flag court that honors all branches of military. He was able to preserve the decommissioned fire station to be transformed into its current use as a senior and arts center.

The city of Folsom would not be a numerous winner of Park and facility awards if it was not for the tireless efforts of Ernie Sheldon.

2002 California’s Outstanding Park Commissioner

California Park & Recreation Society recently honored Sheldon with the Award of Excellence: Champion of the Community

California Association of Park & Recreation Commissioners and Board Members presented Sheldon with the President’s Award, a seldom-presented award bestowed upon an individual who demonstrates exceptional service and leadership in parks and recreation programs and activities.

Miscellaneous

HOW RECREATIONAL YOUTH SPORTS IN FOLSOM SHOULD BE

Dan Palhegyi – March 12, 2020 – 11/12B Championship Win Dedicate to Ryan Senior

I wanted to share the recent story. This exemplifies the core of the FYBA and how recreational youth sports in Folsom should be. This team went into a final game and was visibly outmatched in talent. As the game progressed it was clear that their attitude and the coaches leadership would change the game and it did. Our “hats off” to Coach Donato for his time volunteering in our league.

—– Forwarded Message —–From: Donato, Anthony <anthony.donato@intel.com>Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2020, 09:26:20 AM PDT

Hi Fellow Coaches and FYBA Officials! Hope everyone had a fun season. My Kings ended up winning the 11/12B Championship Game this past Monday against the Tropics, but I wanted to let everyone know that the win was Dedicated to Ryan Senior.

My son, Jonathan, started playing FYBA during 1st grade; I was the assistant coach for two years. I became the head coach of Jonathan and the Kings in 3rd Grade. That was when Ryan became my assistant coach with both Jonathan and his son, Mason Senior, playing on the same team. It remained this way for 7 years with Ryan, my assistant, and Mason and Jonathan playing together. Those of you with sons ending their FYBA careers this year and that have coached a long time, I’m sure recognize him.

Ryan tragically died in a car accident on Christmas Eve: kcra.com/article/man-dies-in-christmas-eve-crash-in-rancho-cordova/30328307. I still can’t fathom what happened and I’m still at a loss for words. I’m just honored to have gotten to spend 7 years with Ryan and Mason and this victory is for them. Ryan had coached 7 kids that participated in the Finals this year: Jonathan Donato, William Chen, Wayson Lee, Kyle Nguyen, and Fyez Dean from the Kings and Payton Busbee and Wyatt Wreford from the Tropics.

TEN POINTS OF INTEREST

10 Points of Interest – a document that shows some of the history of Folsom.

Nisenan Indians

Amos P. Catlin / Natoma Company

Natoma Grove

Lions Club / City Lions Park and Zoo

Rotary Club / Lew Howard Park

Chamber of Commerce / Folsom Athletic Association / Lembi Community Park

Folsom Athletic Association / Community Youth Sports Leagues

Folsom Parks

Friends of Folsom Parkways / Folsom Bike Trails

Folsom Facilities

Folsom Open Space

MISCELLANEOUS / NOTES NOT TO FORGET

City is asking the FAA to Redo the score board on Lembi baseball field C, which is named after – Robert “Bobby” Keefe.

Wikipedia: Robert Francis Keefe, known as Bobby Keefe in baseball, was born near Folsom, California in June 1882. He graduated from Santa Clara College in 1902, where he was the star baseball pitcher. He then pitched for the Sacramento Senators in 1903, the first year of the Pacific Coast League. The following year, the Solon franchise moved to Tacoma, Washington, where he had two outstanding years with the Tacoma Tigers before going to the New York Highlanders (later Yankees). After a period with the Yankees, he was released to the Montreal farm club of the Yankees. He later pitched for the Cincinnati Reds. While there, he met Margaret Carroll, who later became his wife.

His last appearance in baseball was in 1921 with the San Francisco Seals.

After his baseball career, he returned to the Folsom area where he worked for the Natomas Gold Dredging Company. He later became the County Assessor for East Sacramento County. For several years, he was in charge of the water system for the Folsom area. In his last years before retirement, he was also Postmaster of Folsom. He retired to the Land Park area of Sacramento.

He and his wife raised four children, Helen Roberta Keefe, Carol B. Keefe, Robert Gael Keefe, and John Franklin Keefe.

He died in 1964. – NEED TO FIND OUT WHEN THEY NAMED THE LEMBI PARK BASEBALL FIELD AFTER KEFFE.

Good stewards are team players, and they’re quick to give others credit. They work together to reach goals. Good stewards believe in communication and being transparent. They gladly seek advice and feedback from their stakeholders. Good stewards always acknowledge and thank the master they serve.

2020 SENIOR HOLIDAY GIFT BAG PROGRAM

A story to warm your heart … Rich’s daughters were kind enough to help deliver a few gifts for the holiday program. Paige and Cassidy met a senior in her mid-70’s, recently divorced, and living in a trailer with no family. Not only did they deliver the gift, but they helped her with an outside chore using a ladder and went back that evening to share a pizza (paying with their own funds). They also met another senior who asked if they had a bag to deliver to someone who could use some holiday cheer. Karen provided that bag and the girls delivered it! I know Rich was proud to have raised some great kids who took the time to make a friend, bring a smile, and learn what the holidays (and this project) are all about.

IT'S A SMALL WORLD ...

Rich Francis bought a home in Folsom that was originally owned by Ken Grossfeld (what year was this?). Ken was a former Past Folsom American Little League President, Folsom Park Commissioner and Chairman with a passion for the little league program. Ken and his wife Jennifer believed so strongly in the value of athletics that they established a scholarship fund in Ken’s honor. This was discovered through chit-chat during the closing escrow process.