Century Club goes Cross-Country and Golden

A Story by Michele Kreinheder | Updated 12/7/2015 8:13pm


A Century Club meeting brings to mind the line from Forest Gump, “you never know what you are going to get”. This week we got a golden football and learned how the Century Club helped make cross-country the up-and-coming sport in Long Beach.

FootballThis year is Super Bowl L. To celebrate its 50th, high schools that graduated a student that played in a Super Bowl will receive a commemorative golden football. Turns out that active Century Club member Jeff Severson played in Super Bowl VII and graduated from Wilson High. His golden ball, embossed with the words “Wilson is part of Super Bowl History” was passed around at the meeting.  Severson is a large presence in the club and has a full and interesting history beyond his football career. Read more about Severson in this 2014 OC Register article. Jeff severson

The Century Club’s guest speaker of the evening was Poly’s Cross-Country coach Nate Bershtel. Also at the podium were team members, Senior Mandy Wainfan and Sophomore Fiona O’Leary, who had success at this year’s State Meet. Going to State is new and exciting territory for Poly and Nate credits the Century Club and the decade old middle school cross-country program and yearly meet for increasing interest in his program.

RunnersI happened to be seated next to Mike Fillipow, Poly’s Boys Cross-country coach, who Nate recognized as the organizer of the yearly Middle School meet. I have been a member of the Century Club for a solid two years now but I never heard we were involved with this well-attended meet. An email to Mike and his response below, solved the mystery as to how the Century Club was involved.

Ten years ago I sitting with a middle school PE teacher at our wives' Christmas party when I asked him if he thought there would be interest in a cross country meet for LBUSD Middle Schoolers.  He thought so & five months later we had our first meet.  I approached the Century Club shortly after we came up with the initial idea as we needed funds for the timing system.  Without hesitation, the Century Club kicked in the timing funds & the meet was born!

The meet will be held in 2016 at Heartwell Park on June 3. The meet now also includes runs for 4th and 5th graders and has over 500 participates.

Nate Bershtel seems like a terrific coach. He is extremely enthusiast about running and you could tell he is genuinely concerned about the girls well-being. The average GPA of his 140 runners is an unweighted 3.8! The girls were simple adorable and answered all our questions with candor and a good bit of humor.

Looking for something interesting to do on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 7? Century Club meets each week at The Boathouse. The guest speakers are usually coaches who have a knack for being good motivational speakers (go figure). The yearly fee is still $100, just as it was 60 years ago when the club formed.

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Michele Kreinheder
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