Virgen’s View: Bubba more than a story

By Steve Virgen
Daily Pilot
July 11, 2011

There are some memories I’ve become attached to while working at the Daily Pilot.

In the reporting business, journalists refer to those memories as stories. But Brian “Bubba” Kapko became so much more than a story to me.

Six years after his death, I still usually smile when I hear the name, Bubba. In short, Bubba was the All-American kid while he played football at Estancia High. He was the type who left it all out on the field. As a big fullback, he ran with everything he had. Also, you could tell, no matter what the score, Bubba was having a good time.

His memory lives on today with the Brian Kapko Foundation. His family and several members of the community gathered Saturday for the annual Bub-A-Que in honor of the former Estancia student who was killed in a car accident when he was 19.

I was told over 200 people gathered for the tailgate party at Angels Stadium. Then, 160 of the supporters attended the Angels game.

Over $11,500 was raised for the Brian Kapko Foundation, which financially supports activities that Bubba treasured. Bubba was a football standout who was also active in student government, in drama and track and field.

All of the funds raised go directly to the Brian Kapko Foundation, as costs of the event are covered by sponsors.

"It was a wonderful tribute to Bubba," Rick Kapko, Bubba’s father, wrote in an email, describing the latest Bub-A-Que. "Our entire family is deeply touched by the support from our friends and community since Bubba died."

Last season, the Eagles retired Bubba’s jersey, No. 37. During the ceremony, Estancia Coach Mike Bargas said the team dedicated the season to Bubba. The Eagles played hard, like Bubba did. Estancia won its first outright league title in 21 years after going undefeated in the Orange Coast League.

Yes, Bubba’s memory lives on. Back in 2002, Bubba gave me a quote that can be applied to any football team.

He had just helped Estancia break a 10-game losing streak, as he rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, impressive numbers for a fullback. He was very hard to bring down, and he usually dished out the pain rather than taking it.

So I asked him, what were you thinking when you were running?

"I didn’t want to lose," Bubba told me with a slight grin. He was happy that the Eagles won.

"I was terrified of losing," Bubba said. "I wasn’t afraid to run. I just put my head down and ran."