Foothill football " At Nevada Union, it’s a family affair
Through the years, there’s no doubt a flock of families who have provided Nevada Union’s football program with a number of players, which to many of those homes just became a rite of passage as their boys became men.
Two such families, the Moules and Ostroms, have long been a part of the local football lineage.
Nine Nevada Union Miners.
That’s how many of the Moule brothers suited up in the Navy and Gold over the years.
Let’s see, there was Bill, who graduated in ’57, Tom (’64), Ben (’66), Jim (’68), Mike (’70), the twins, Pat and Tim, (’72), Jon (’76) and Terry (’81).
“I think those years are accurate,” said Jim, No. 5 in that line of nine boys, who was voted best lineman in his senior season as a Miner .
Of course that might be quite a crowning achievement in any other family, but for the Moule’s football player factory ” which included 12 children in all ” it was somewhat commonplace. Four of his brothers also earned the honor when they Miners.
“Football was just one of those things that you looked forward to doing, waiting to be old enough so that you could do it,” said Moule, who graduated in 1967 and operates Moule Paint & Glass. “I remember my parents (Bill and Margaret) bought us helmets. We were pretty young. We’d go down to Henessey field and run into each other when we were anywhere from 5 to 13 years old, thinking we were really tough.”
Moule also remembers that Friday night was football night, which meant going to the games, even sitting there in the rain. No matter what the conditions were, you sat there and watched them play. The whole family did.
“You can imagine the kind of spectacle of 12 children following their parents to these high school football games,” Moule said. “I can remember going to Yuba City and the whole family talking about beating them this time. But every year we were going to beat them, they ended up beating us. They always had some speedy kids.”
His brother, Tom, also still lives in the area and attends NU games wearing his letterman’s jacket. The two are well-versed in the history of Nevada Union football and Jim said he does notice quite a few differences between the current era and his own playing days.
“There wasn’t the hype,” he said. “There wasn’t the boosters club or parents getting behind the whole school program, the Miner Magic and everything they have now. It’s a good thing. It instills a lot of community pride when the teams win.”
Moule said there were two memories that stand out from his playing days. The first is that during his senior year he was somewhat of a Lou Gehrig or Cal Ripken at center, not missing a single snap ” long or short.
“The other one was the only touchdown I scored,” he said. “We were on defense and there was a punt that I jumped up and caught and rushed in at a home game against my brother, Bill, who was coaching Pleasant Valley High School. (It’s memorable) even though they beat us. That was the only score we got.”
Actually dating back to the Grass Valley High School days, Alec Ostrom was carrying the ball across the goal line as GVHS’ leading rusher in mid to late 1930s.
“He had a scholarship to Stanford, Idaho and Reno,” said Sven Ostrom, Alec’s son. “But he never went to Stanford, played at Idaho for three weeks and basically got home sick. Then he ended up playing with (Pro Football Hall of Famer) Marion Motley in Reno.
“I have a photo of him playing as a sophomore on the 1936 team, which was the first Grass Valley championship team.”
Sven, who teaches history at Nevada Union and played high school football ” among other sports ” at Roseville, said his dad’s playing days were anything but kids’ stuff. It was period of time where not only men were men, but boys, too.
“Most of them were already working underground in the mines,” Sven said. “He started working when he was 14. And he was playing poker in the bars at 16.
“That wasn’t unusual because they were forced to grow up so fast they were men before their time.”
Alec’s brother, Homer, should also be a name familiar to longtime western Nevada County football fans. Or, perhaps, they know him by his nickname. “Buzz” Ostrom had a long tenure as Grass Valley and Nevada Union junior varsity coach. One of Buzz’s former JV gridders remembers him as the most respected coach at NU.
“Coach Ostrom was feared and loved by his players,” said Wayne Brooks, NU Class of ’55. “He was the commander in chief, general, master sergeant, and drill instructor all wrapped up in the same person.
“He could inspire superior efforts with just a look. He was innovative and could pull a game out with the ‘big play.'”
Brooks, by the way, has some famous family history of his own. He went on to play football at Sacramento Junior College. His brother, Rich, also an NU alum, played ball at Oregon State before crossing the line of the famed Civil War to serve as head coach at Oregon for 18 years. Rich later was head coach of the St. Louis Rams for two seasons, from 1995-96, had a stint as defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons and is now the head coach for the Kentucky Wildcats.
But, back to Buzz.
Not only did he lead Nevada Union’s JV, then known as ‘The Nuggets,’ he also guided NU’s varsity in 1956 to a 5-2 record, which just happened to be the best season in school history at the time.
“If my dad was still alive he’d be telling you all of it (local football history),” said Sig Ostrom, Buzz’s boy and a current Nevada Union teacher and track and field coach, along with his sister Nordis. “My family is kind of an anomaly. My grandfather (Rolf Moeller) coached in Roseville, where they have a gym named after him. Both sides of my family were in coaching.”
And, they were into playing.
Sig also played football at Roseville in high school, before arriving as faculty member at NU. His son, Isaac, was the leading rusher of the 1993-94 NU teams that won Sac-Joaquin Section championships. Aaron Brown, a nephew to Nordis and Sig, played for the Miners and Loren Brown, Aaron’s father, coached NU alongside Marshall Nixon.
And it doesn’t end there.
Sven’s wife, Robin Ali, is the daughter of Albert Ali, the namesake of a Nevada Union gymnasium. And Robin’s nephew, Tyler Smith, is vying to earn the starting quarterback position for the Miners this season.
“It’s kind of obscene, isn’t it?” Sven said with a laugh, after being told the Ali-Ostrom family might just be as close to being the royal bloodline of Nevada Union as it gets.
“It was just kind in our blood, in our genetics. It was expected, not a forced expectation, but it was an unspoken thing in our family that you play football. It was kind of a way of life.”
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