Most of us have not been to Iraq. We have seen video though:
Hot desert sun. Long stretches of windswept sand. U.S. soldiers on patrol.
Contrast that with the football field at Valencia High School on Friday nights: Enthusiastic crowds in purple and white. The band oompah-pah-pahing. Referees blowing their whistles.
As the crow flies Bagdhad, Iraq is 7,648 miles from Valencia High School.
For Randy Aguon, KHTS AM 1220 turns those miles to minutes.
“You guys have been great over the last few years,” said Aguon.
Aguon’s son, Cody Anciano, is a running back for the Valencia Vikings football team. As a private contractor supporting U.S. troops in Iraq, he doesn’t get to see his boy play very often.
That’s where the KHTS radio website www.hometownstation.com comes in.
“I first discovered through the website we can go to the listen live on the computer and that’s pretty much how I stay up to date,” Aguon said.
Every week the broadcast team of Barry McKeever and Kyle Jellings call the action of local schools on the show High School Football on KHTS AM-1220.
That’s how Aguon follows the action of his son Cody all the way in Iraq.
“Occasionally I would get that he’s got live games. Those are awesome ‘cause I get the play by play,” said Aguon.
With the time difference that means Aguon is getting up at 3 a.m. to call Cody before the game.
“When he’s on the bus going to his next game he’d call me or I’d get up and call him at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Aguon said.
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But it’s not just about game day. Aguon says he and his son haven’t missed a day of talking two, three times a day.
“He really depends on my phone calls and me and him talking day to day. Regardless of whatever it may be, whether it’s school or dealing with any situation. Primarily football. He really loves that game so much,” said Aguon.
Cody, a senior, lives in Valencia with his mother Patty Pratt and her husband. Patty and her son first moved to Santa Monica from Guam when Cody was eight years-old. When he was a freshman they moved to Valencia.
Cody’s father Randy lives in Guam when not dispatched to the Middle East. He gets to visit his son in Valencia only three or four times a year and the stay is short. They’re relationship is primarily over the phone.
“It’s been hard. We’ve kind of gotten used to it. There’s times where, y’know, we just try to maintain. Be up front with it,” said Aguon.
Friday morning, Aguon arrived in Santa Clarita to watch his son play against Hart High School tonight at College of the Canyons. This will be the first game he’s seen this season.
“I tried to get out there sooner, but work dictates what I do pretty much for my time, so I’m excited to come out,” Aguon said.
Last week Valencia dominated Canyon and Saugus defeated Hart. Some might consider the outcome of tonight’s game a foregone conclusion. Not so, for Aguon.
“Oh, no predictions. Other than I know Cody will get out there and do whatever he can with whatever time he has to play out there. He going to put forth his best effort,” said Aguon.
The family’s approach to football and life is rooted in their upbringing in Guam. Aguon says Cody wants to play football beyond high school, but a scholarship is not an obsession.
“We’re not trying to get one. But if whatever comes in life, we believe that whatever the Lord throws at us in our lives here, we’re pretty much content with whatever comes, so if he can play nine plays in a game and two of the nine are good. Then we’re happy with that. That’s our contention. That’s the way we live, traditionally and culturally,” Aguon said.
Since Aguon is in town to see his son play live, he won’t have to contend with one problem he faces listening to KHTS on the internet – lag time. Because of the distance and poor internet connections in Iraq, sometimes Aguon says he doesn’t get the scores right away. That’s when he picks up the phone and calls the station for an update.
“I don’t know most of the time who I’m talking to, but I do my best to keep it at a minimum,” said Aguon.
Aguon is afraid his calls are irritating, but we’re happy to be here for him.
“Thank you very much for keeping me posted. That’s the only link that we have. It’s tough and that’s what’s been keeping me going pretty much,” said Aguon.
Listen to the game tonight on AM 1220, KHTS. Kickoff is set for 7:30.