News: PCC Alumni Feature: Former Football Star Momon Now A Prep Superintendent
The artificial turf that now covers the football field at Robinson Stadium is a far cry from the grass and dirt PCC alumnus Elvin Momon ran on. In fact, many things on campus are different from what they used to be in 1972 when the former running back was part of one of the Lancers’ greatest football teams.
Walking onto the field recently, Momon reminisced about his old football playing days, and how close he was to his teammates and coaches.
“We would play basketball on a court that used to be over there,” Momon said, pointing to where Parking Lot 4 is located now. “And some of us players would rough-house in the locker room after practice.”
They might’ve been having fun in the locker room, but the 1972 Lancer football team meant business when it was on the field as it was almost unstoppable. With a record of 12-1, PCC won the Metropolitan Conference title. The team’s only loss came against Fresno City in the Potato Bowl.
“I remember that game,” Momon said of the loss. “I was beat up. At least five or six of us were really beat up after playing Saddleback [in the playoffs].” Though the Lancers limped off the field with a 21-7 loss against Fresno in the state title game, the Lancers still were proclaimed as national champions by the JC Grid-Wire.
“But it’s great to see that I’ve still got some bragging rights!” he exclaimed as he flipped through PCC’s football records.
Much has changed since those days, including Momon trading in his shoulder pads for a suit and tie. Now, Momon focuses on keeping children and teachers in check as the superintendent at Victor Valley Union High School District.
“It’s definitely a challenge, but I enjoy it,” he said. “It gives me a chance to impact not just a couple hundred kids but 10,000 kids.”
One of Momon’s main goals is for VVUHSD to prepare today’s youth for an ever-changing global economy by placing a great deal of focus on math, science and technology. “Our kids are teaching teachers technology in some cases,” Momon said. “It’s like they’re born with a chip in their head! So we have new standards that will focus on critical thinking and technology.”
In his playing days at PCC, Momon rushed for 1,419 yards in his career at and he still holds the No. 5 spot for most rushing yards in a season at 1,194. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry that season and was an All-Metro Conference selection as well as an All-American honorable mention.
Harvey Hyde, an assistant coach for the Lancers at the time and later a 2-time conference champion head coach for PCC in 1979-80, said that even former rival football coach Ernie Johnson called Momon “the best running back in the state.”
Momon points out to players he played with or knows, such as his brother-in-law Danny Pittman Sr., who went on to play for the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals in the National Football League.
Momon also mentions No. 5 career rusher at PCC Albert Youngblood, the running back he shadowed and learned from as a freshman Lancer, among many others, such as former USC Trojan and Oakland Raider Charlie Phillips.
“[Momon’s] style was very similar to NFL legend Marcus Allen,” Hyde said. “He didn’t appear to be very fast, but he was, even when running sideways.”
His talents didn’t come easy to him though. Momon says he wasn’t very athletic as a child but credits his two cousins for teaching him how to play stickball and football on an old dirt field in Pasadena. When they thought he was good enough, his cousins saved up money from their paper routes, sat Momon on their handlebars and gave him a ride to Victory Park where they signed him up for Pop Warner football.
Momon was born in Arkansas on February 9, 1953, but his family moved to Pasadena before he turned one year old. He grew up on Villa Street and Fair Oaks Avenue, went to Blair Elementary, William McKinley Middle and Blair High School where, as a junior, Momon helped the Vikings defeat Bishop Amat in 1970 to win the CIF championship and become the No. 1 high school football team in the nation. After graduating high school in 1971, Momon began attending PCC.
Education and administration wasn’t something Momon always knew he wanted to do though. After receiving a football scholarship from Oregon State University, Momon moved up north to The Beaver State after graduation from PCC and not only continued to play football, but discovered that he wanted to help children. It was difficult, but Momon learned to balance athletics and school and received his bachelor’s in physical education in 1975 then his master’s degree in counseling and clinical psychology in 1977.
“PCC definitely got me used to balancing football and my education,” he remembers. “I left Pasadena undecided, but I got a great education there. The rigor in the classrooms from the professors was outstanding and they did a very good job preparing me for Oregon State.”
“He was one of those guys who wasn’t a big name coming out of high school, but when he went to PCC he made a name for himself,” Hyde said. “PCC offers a lot. Student-athletes can develop their minds and bodies as freshmen and sophomores so that they will be better prepared for the university level.”
He found some success on the field at OSU, getting the team’s MVP award and even transitioning to the short-lived professional World Football League (WFL), which folded midway through its second season. It was then that Momon decided to further his career in education.
The former running back began moving up the ranks at his first job in education in an all-girl private catholic school where he taught physical education, physiology and anatomy. “I was surrounded by nuns and was the only man,” Momon said, laughing. “It was very interesting!”
From there, his experiences were a little more normal. He transitioned to counseling at the Palm Springs Unified School District then began attending Cal State San Bernardino with a friend, where he received an administrative services credential.
Momon moved his family to Victorville where he became a counselor at VVUHSD. Then, impressed with his work and the handling of a school controversy, Momon quickly began moving up the ranks and was eventually promoted to principal at Victor Valley High School, where he helped the school improve its test scores by 150 points.
“We experienced tremendous growth during my time at the high school,” he said. “As a result, I was moved to the district where I became the senior director of human resources for a couple of years.”
When a superintendent stepped down at the district, Momon was appointed in 2010 and has held the title ever since.
PCC Police Chief Donald Yoder, who is the former Chief of Police for the City of Victorville, met Momon in June 2011. Victorville police officers also served as School Resources Officers in the area’s schools, so Yoder witnessed Momon’s “great leadership” through tough times in the school district.
“Our relationship began as professional, but we became good friends,” Yoder said. “I have been very fortunate to have met him and our love of college football really brought us together; even if he is an Oregon State fan!
“[Momon] is a very honorable, humble, caring, outgoing and fun individual,” Yoder continued. “He has shown compassion and caring for his students and staff.”
Momon has spent 35 years in education and even now, a year away from retirement, Momon still has big plans for his district. He is planning on using high-performing schools like University Preparatory and the Cobalt Institute of Math and Science, which both have advanced programs such as culinary, engineering and bio medicine among other things, as an example for other schools in his district.
“I want to just bottle up what those schools do and share it with the other schools in our system,” he said.
After he retires, Momon would like to do some consulting work for others but for now, he enjoys reminiscing about his days playing with the Lancers and looks forward to sharing his success with his grandchildren.
“I had some pretty good influences growing up,” Momon says. Influences, including parents, family and teammates, who have helped Momon strive to become the hard-working and successful man he is today.
“He’s a quiet gentleman,” Hyde said about Momon. “He’s the perfect example of many former student-athletes who have gone through PCC and were successful on the field as well as off, have done a lot to give back to their community, and have influenced children and adults alike."
[Feature written by Sara Medina, sports information assistant, practice photo of Elvin Momon from 1972 courtesy of Mr. Momon]
Release Date: 08/05/2013