By William Odis Martin
NORWALK – Matt Rodriguez, 76, won the only individual California Interscholastic Federation Championship in the more than 70-year history of Excelsior Union High School. Rodriguez, class of 1958, was a master of the parallel bars and proved it in Pasadena winning the CIF title for his school.
“He was a senior at that time and a member of the exciting gymnastic team,” said Dolores Rodriguez, Matt’s wife and high school sweetheart.
“There was much excitement in the Rodriguez household following the great news [of his win]. His success was written up in the school newspaper, which also included a photograph.”
The prized trophy Matt Rodriguez received was placed on display in the administration building until the school permanently closed its doors in June 1981, when the trophy that was engraved with his name got stashed away and nearly forgotten.
Forgotten by all except the Rodriguez family.
The Rodriguez’s are now on the hunt, requesting local help locating this treasured family heirloom before Matt turns 77-years-old.
“My request is that someone will take the time to research the location of the old trophies and that [Matt’s] only CIF Championship trophy be located and awarded to him for the second and last time,” Dolores said.
“Hopefully this request will not fall on deaf ears and my husband can receive a truly great gift for his birthday this spring.”
Excelsior Union High School has a long history in the community of Norwalk stretching back to the early 1920s when it served as a regional secondary school for the cities of Bellflower, Artesia, Norwalk, and La Mirada.
In the 1960s, the school was formally grafted into the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District and remained a staple at the corner of Alondra and Pioneer boulevards until its closure.
Matt and Dolores have yet to formally petition the school district, which now utilizes the former high school as an adult school, but they are hopeful they can somehow acquire the lost trophy.
“It only bears his name,” said Dolores. “Thus he believes it should be considered his property.”