Lonnie Spann Jr. helped lay the foundation for Vintage High School’s athletic program today. The school, established in 1972, needed the help of students and student-athletes to harbor school spirit and a sense of unity among the new community.
Spann, a 1975 Vintage graduate, was the perfect man for the job.
He was a split end and defensive back for the first-ever football team at the high school.
“We didn’t even have grass – just dirt,” Spann reflected.
However, despite making a name for himself on the dirt-covered football field, Spann truly shined as a sprinter for the track and field team.
“Football I liked,” Spann said. “Track I loved.”
During his time at Vintage, Spann’s speed was integral to developing a reputation for the track and field program. He held records in the 100- and 220-yard dash. He and his teammates also set records in the 4x100 relay.
He was one of the team’s captains and helped lead the Crushers to North Bay League championships two years in a row.
This September, Spann will be inducted into the Vintage High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame for his career in both football and track.
Although his high school track career was filled with success and accolades, Spann did not start out with the speed that so many of his competitors came to envy.
Years earlier, Spann began sprinting for Silverado Middle School’s track team. Although an obvious star later on for Vintage, Spann struggled in the beginning stages of his sprinting career.
“I was always the last one coming across the finish line,” Spann reflected, with a laugh.
However, Spann’s slow start with track did not deter him from pursuing greatness in the sport that he loved. Rather than being discouraged, Spann took his losses and used them as motivation to improve his abilities.
After school and practice, neighbors would find Spann putting in extra time practicing his sprints and form in order to improve his speed.
“I told myself that I want to be a sprinter. And one day I’ll be fast,” Spann said.
Little did he know at the time, he’d become one of the fastest runners on his high school team. His hard work paid off.
Upon receiving the news of his impending induction into the Vintage Hall of Fame, Spann said he was “Excited. And happy. And nervous.”
He will be attending the event, although he is worried he may get “too emotional” during the speeches and reunions with his old friends and teammates.
After his illustrious high school career, Spann went on to play football at Napa Valley College. He then pursued a career as a maintenance mechanic. He is currently retired and lives in Suisun with his wife and daughter.
The Hall of Fame ceremony will take place this September, and many athletes who contributed to the beginning of Vintage sports, like Spann, will be honored. They may have played on dirt fields for a school just getting off the ground, but student-athletes today have people like Spann and the other inductees to thank for paving the way of Vintage High athletics.