Two days from clashing in the Holiday Bowl, the teams and staff from Cal and Texas enjoyed lunch Monday on the USS Boxer, an 844-foot long, 40,500 ton Navy ship that accomodates more than 3,100 crew and troops.
The Wasp-class large-deck multi-purpose amphibious assault ship, basically an aircraft carrier for helicopters, had plenty of room for the several hundred guests that included both team parties, as well as military dignataries and sailors.
The teams were escorted up the gangplank onto the ship, where they were greeted by officers and sailors. Both schools’ bands performed on Pier 13 to kick off the festivities.
The luncheon featured a series of speeches by blazer-wearing bowl hosts and their various sponsors, but the highlight was the presentation of the Admiral Grant Sharp Trophy, given to member of each program for unselfish commitment, ability to motivate and display of teamwork with little acclaim.
Players voted on the award and the Bears honored recruiting assistant Kevin Parker, an Oakland native, who serves as big brother and off-field mentor to Cal players.
“Very emotional. It means the world to mean,” Parker said a few minutes later. “I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, I think, at Cal. This shows me that everything I do is appreciated. My mom always told me your actions speak for themselves.”