AMA stands for Angels – Murphys – Arnold, and has been a strong force supporting kids sports programs since 1971. Much of AMA’s success should be credited to the original founders. Around the end of 1969, a few men, Larry Ziehlke, Millard Smallin and Dan Miller, were trying to put a football team together for the kids in the community. In moving forward with their ideas, these men were joined by Ray Shires, Terry Erickson, Don Peirano and Bob Sanders to form the AMA Booster’s Club in 1971. After a great deal of hard work and dedication, the first Pop Warner Football Teams were fielded. These men inspired the local community to donate to their youth sport program. For the community, it was a matter of pride to be able to contribute to AMA. One contributor, Dave Copello, took interest in AMA and offered to help this organization. Subsequently, Dave Copello donated six acres to build softball fields for the girls, since little league already had a place to play. In order to begin development on Copello Park, many volunteers came forward to donate their time and equipment. Mother Lode Engineering, Fletcher Construction, Sutton Construction, Hydrox Inc., George Reed Inc., Baileys Masonry, Wayne Segale General Contractor and Ray Shires Excavating were the pioneers of contributions that helped build Copello Park. In 1974, Dave Copello passed away, but not before he saw most of Copello Park completed. His legacy is still with us as he left AMA 5/7 of his estate.
Along with donations to the Club, AMA has maintained many types of fundraisers throughout the years. In the mid-70’s, AMA began the tradition of parking cars at the Fair as well as other events such as the Mountain Aire Concerts, the Camel Races, the Harvest Festival, the Renaissance Fair and most recently the Ironstone Vineyard Concerts. Currently, AMA carries on the tradition of parking cars at the Fair as well as the Bret Harte FFA Oysters ‘n Oinkers event. Fair Parking and our Annual Crab Feed are the principal fundraisers that benefit the maintenance and improvements for Copello Park, as well as purchasing insurance, sports equipment, uniforms and other necessary operational items.
As the Club evolved over the years, AMA has sponsored the annual Boys and Girls Basketball Tournament organized by Dave Cosgrave, the AMA Wrestling Tournament under the direction of Mike Burke, and the Girls Ponytail Softball League under the direction of Bill Fish, with significant help from Darlene Sanders and Sharon Canepa.
What is so remarkable about AMA is that it operates solely on volunteers. Not only are there nine directors, (three from the Mark Twain School District – three from the Vallecito School District – three At-Large), there are also commissioners, coaches, spouses and other volunteers that make these programs possible. Copello Park was built by and has been maintained by volunteers since 1971.
AMA’s mission is to involve youth in sports related recreational activities. Through our sports programs, we have seen many lives change for the better. Our youth learn respect, safety, sportsmanship, team play, fundamentals and skills needed to become successful athletes, future leaders within our community, and upstanding individuals. With the help of donations, fundraising and volunteers, we can continue to support and improve our youth programs.
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