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Quarterback Club president scores honor as parade grand marshal
Joe Franscella is all smiles while listening to Ripon Almond Blossom Queen candidates talk about his beloved Ripon Quarterback Club on Thursday night during the Almond Blossom Festival kick-off dinner. The Ripon Chamber of Commerce selected Franscella as president of the Ripon Quarterback Club to serve as grand marshal for the upcoming parade. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: 49th annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival
• WHEN: Feb. 24-27
• WHERE: Spring Creek Golf & Country Club
• MORE INFO: Call the Ripon Chamber of Commerce at 599-7519

RIPON — John Franscella loves everything about Ripon athletics.

He loves the way the Stouffer Field grass smells under the lights on Friday night.

He loves the way the sun shines down over the cinderblock dugouts during a baseball game in May.

And as the president of the Ripon Quarterback Club, he most of all loves to see the smiling faces of local student-athletes participating in sports that his organizations keeps going even during lean financial times.

This year, for the 49th annual Almond Blossom Festival, the Ripon Chamber of Commerce has elected to honor Franscella as the grand marshal of the parade and the Quarterback Club overall for their selfless dedication to helping serve the community for decades.

It was an honor that caught the humble Franscella off-guard.

“I’m honored that the chamber selected me as part of this organization to be the grand marshal this year,” Franscella said Thursday night at the annual Almond Blossom kick-off dinner at Spring Creek Country Club. “This is a very special group of people that love Ripon athletics, and I’m honored to represent them.”

As the seven Almond Queen contestants filtered up and back from the lectern giving their speeches about the Quarterback Club Thursday night, the numbers thrown out and the dedication revealed was staggering – with roughly $30,000 donated annually to help offset the cost of nearly 70 sports programs throughout town.

That number, just under Franscella’s seven-year tenure at the helm – easily tops $200,000, and that’s a conservative estimate on the most regular of years.

With dances, golf tournaments, tri-tip sales and private donations making the bulk of the funding they take in, the organization has helped some sports – like women’s golf – continue when budget constraints were forcing belts to tighten in ways that most people have never seen before.

While most communities have booster clubs to help support student-athletes, Franscella says that the Ripon Quarterback Club is different in the sense that even when people watch their children go away to college, they still come back.

“We have a core group of about 50 people, and some don’t have kids and some that do have already watched them grow up – and they’re still back here every single year because they love supporting athletics in Ripon,” Franscella said. “That’s really what this organization is all about.”