Papadakis pushes on – The Peninsula’s first Athletics Hall of Fame inductee is still a Peninsula team leader
by Jake Safane
Petros Papadakis was part of the inaugural freshman class at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in 1991, when three high schools on the peninsula merged into one. Now, he’s the first inductee into the Peninsula High School Athletics Hall of Fame.
“In addition to having been an outstanding athlete at Peninsula High in both football and track…he has been outspoken in his support of the school and its athletic programs, in addition to supporting youth sports throughout the Palos Verdes Peninsula,” said PV Peninsula Athletics Booster Club’s Don Koeberle in explaining why Papadakis was selected for this induction.
Papadakis was honored on March 19 at the booster club’s annual Black and Gold Affaire, a fundraising event for the school’s athletics program. “This support helps purchase equipment and other necessities and goes above and beyond what the school itself has the budget to provide, in addition to funding the school’s athletic trainers,” Koeberle said.
In the coming years, the Hall of Fame will recognize other standouts from Peninsula High, and the former Rolling Hills High, which occupied the current Peninsula site.
As good as Papadakis was in sports during Peninsula’s formative years — which led to playing running back and becoming a team captain at USC — he’s far from being a stereotypical jock.
“I was somebody who struggled in high school, like a lot of young people do,” says Papadakis. “I was not a good student. I struggled getting along with my parents. I had a lot of issues with self-image and wanting to be accepted.”
Sports gave him the opportunity to turn things around. High school football teaches people, despite differences they may have, “to pull together in a group and to persevere through something that’s hard and kind of build yourself back up through it,” he says. He sees similar positive attributes in other sports, including individual ones.
For example, after USC, he learned to box. “I couldn’t believe the courage that the sport involves.”
Still, football remained central to his life.
“Whether I like it or not, football has given me an identity,” he says.
That identity has led to a successful career as a sportscaster, from announcing and analyzing college football for FOX Sports, to co-hosting a sports radio show in LA (“Petros and Money” on AM 570), to appearing alongside Fred Roggin on “The Challenge” after Sunday Night Football games on NBC’s LA affiliate TV station.
Even with this success as a public persona, he stays true to his roots.
“He is a consistent presence at Peninsula High athletic events, and often acknowledges Peninsula teams during his television and radio appearances,” notes the booster club’s Koeberle.
His eclectic tastes and introspective nature contrast with the somewhat inflated, rambunctious media persona.
“People listen to me talk about things that I have no business talking about, like literature and movies and all kinds of stuff, because of my identity as a football person. It’s been a door my entire life,” he says.
One of those non-sports areas that Papadakis is passionate about is music. He interviews performers at Redondo’s annual BeachLife Festival, and has a passion for collecting music, ranging from jazz to reggae to indie rock. If he wasn’t in broadcasting, he could potentially see himself in the music industry.
With two young kids participating in Palos Verdes youth sports, Papadakis has enjoyed getting involved and connecting with other families in the area.
“It’s eye-opening to me how the community comes together,” he says. He recently had a dozen local dads over to his house to build a float for a Little League parade. Not one to boast though, he points out that the moms do most of the building while the dads enjoy drinks and consult on the project.
“It’s a great way to get the community together — different people from different backgrounds, different races, creeds,” he says.
Whether or not those kids make it into the local Hall of Fame like Papadakis or go on to play at the college or professional levels, he values what sports can provide to kids and how it helps strengthen community ties.
“We all come together for the young people to give them a good experience,” he says. PEN