By Nathaniel A. Lopez
In August 2020, one photo sparked community outrage and backlash. The photo that rocked the community was of San Manuel High School Athletic trophies, thrown into a dumpster without care.
This event, now known as “Trophy Gate 2020,” was later discovered to be an accident due to miscommunication. But the fact still remained, a lot of those trophies were now damaged due to the incident.
With plenty of work to be done, San Manuel Alum, Vince Majalca took lead in the restoration of the trophies.
“I was an athlete and a coach for San Manuel High School. Many of those trophies I helped earn or coached the teams that won those awards,” said Majalca. “With my degree in history, I wanted to use my skills to give back to San Manuel Athletics, and the high school in general. We have so much history in San Manuel, and with the crazy times happening now, we needed something to reconnect us with the town spirit that has gotten us through many a hard time.”
Vince first took to organizing the trophies, from ones that needed slight or no repairs to those that needed greater attention. Creative Awards of Tucson helped him out with the repairs. With assistance from the San Manuel Miner, Vince was able to access archived newspapers and sports stories.
“I went through every newspaper that the Miner published since 1953, as well as yearbook pictures, and photographs people sent to me that had trophies in them. That helped me identify the trophies that did not have name plates on them. This took exactly one year and two months. I spent 2 days a week at the Miner for at least 5 hours a day,” Majalca stated, “I also had [help from] alumni like Vern Stover and Kathy (Phipps) at the San Manuel Historical Society.”
On Oct. 1, 2021, Vince’s hard work and dedication debuted at an open house presentation for the restored trophies and new displays, highlighting decades of San Manuel Miner excellence. Plenty of people, young and old, came to admire the trophies, taking pictures or pointing and talking about the pictures of the past teams.
“I’d like to thank my friends and family for their support and encouragement. I’d like to thank those in the community that reached out and thanked me, donated money, or information to identify the trophies. James Carnes and Creative Awards especially for their help.”
Vince plans to work on procuring at least two more cases for future awards.
“What I’d like to say to the community is that the school needs help in other matters besides athletics. They still need help financially through tax credits, support for any fundraisers that the students may have, or even volunteering. We all need to take an active role in our school system regardless if we’re parents or not,” Majalca said. “These children really are going to be our future and we need to make sure they have every advantage available to them. As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village’.”