Venice High Gondoliers win first city title in school’s 110 years
By Sebastian Lipstein
The Venice High Gondoliers started their football season 1-3, missing 12 players a week and over half of their defensive starters at one point due to COVID-19 protocols like contact tracing.
During this tough beginning, junior varsity players were forced to step up and VHS barely had enough kids to field a team.
After a rough start, the team was reassembled and went on a seven-game winning streak, including the four-game tournament for the 2021 Division 1 CIF LA City Championship.
The tournament ended with VHS defeating Canoga Park 36-9 in the championship game. This year’s football team are LA City champs for the first time in the school’s 110 years.
In his 22nd year as VHS head coach, Angelo Gasca played for the school in the 1970s.
“We’ve had a lot of good teams and a lot of good players at Venice High, and we’ve been close so many times, but this is the team that finally broke through,” Gasca said. “They’ll always be the first team to have won a championship and that’s significant. We’re proud of them.”
Multiple generations attend the neighborhood school. It’s a dying trend as youth leave their hometown school in pursuit of athletics or academics.
Many of the football coaches are former Venice players who return to the school because of their love for the game and the facility.
Throughout the year, and especially during the playoffs, there is a large home crowd and supportive atmosphere due to the team’s strong ties in the community.
VHS’ storied history now includes one more accomplishment: 2021 LA City Division 1 CIF Champions. This championship isn’t just for the players and the coaches, it’s for everybody who has been a part of the Venice and VHS community.
The school raised $19,195 to help purchase varsity lettermen jackets and championship football rings.
“Everybody who ever played here who I’ve coached or have been lucky enough to be around has a hand in this championship, their fingerprints are on this too,” Gasca said.
“To me, all of Venice should share in this. Our community, our former players, teachers and coaches. I’ve told them all, ‘This is all of ours.’”