Monuments Park? Proposed plaque at La Jolla High leads to idea for athletic tribute

When it comes to recognizing notable La Jolla High School athletes and coaches, the school might have a new system — along with a new stadium — in 2016.

Spurred by a group of Viking alumni who want to install a plaque honoring their former coach on the school’s Scripps Archway, discussions between Principal Chuck Podhorsky and alumni got underway to possibly establish a “Monuments Park” on campus and set the criteria by which someone would qualify for inclusion.

Stan Wyatt from the class of 1951 and a few others met with Podhorsky to talk about installing a memorial plaque for the late football coach Walt Harvey, who passed away in February.

The original plan was to install the plaque, which the group paid to have cast and is now finished, on the exterior wall of the men’s locker room. But the wall is part of the 18-month stadium renovation planned to start next year.

An alternative, the alumni pose, would be to install the plaque on the Scripps Archway because it would not be affected by the renovation. “We think it’s appropriate and we think he’s earned the right to be honored and recognized,” Wyatt said, citing Harvey’s 1999 induction into the Coaching Legends Hall of Fame, housed at the Hall of Champions at Balboa Park. Harvey coached at La Jolla High School from 1948 to 1953 and is one of four coaches from the school to be inducted that year.

Confident that Harvey could be among the honorees in “Monuments Park,” Podhorsky said he thought the decision of whom to honor should be left to a committee and meet pre-determined criteria.

“We have such a rich history here at La Jolla High School with a lot of amazing coaches who have impacted thousands of students’ lives, so I thought we should have a process that creates an equitable way to honor all people who have elevated to that level of greatness,” he said.

Inspired by the “Monuments Park” at Yankee Stadium in New York — which has plaques recognizing players and staff, a place for retired numbers and other forms of acknowledgment — Podhorsky said he likes the idea of installing a similar park on campus as part of the renovation.

“Since we are redoing our stadium completely, let’s create an opportunity for something that’s permanent that has a process to it ... and has room for expansion,” he said, adding he talked with the architect handling the stadium redesign, who said the “Monuments Park” is “totally possible.” Podhorsky also said the alumni he discussed the idea with are “totally supportive.”

But Wyatt and his group have not been persuaded and discussions will continue.

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