When the Friday night lights are on in Sharp Stadium, there is excitement in the air.
Fans can be seen cheering on their team — whether it’s the Alcovy Tigers, the Newton Rams, or the Eastside Eagles — running back and forth between the concession stands to grab a bite to eat, or even participating in game contests and raffles.
While the main focus is on what’s happening on the field, there is a group of people behind the scenes helping to make the night happen. And that group is called a booster club.
A booster club is more than just a support system for sports teams. It also plays a major role in supplying important needs for players, coaches and even parents. Karen Wilcox, the president of the Alcovy Touchdown Club, says their job goes beyond attending their children’s games.
“It’s kind of a support function for the team, and that would include the coaches and the players,” Wilcox said. “We support their efforts, whether that’s certain equipment, pregame and postgame meals, and different functions that go on for them throughout the year that the coaches need assistance with.”
The Alcovy booster club hosts and co-hosts several events throughout the year, such as the Youth Football Jamboree, the recent bonfire before the Tigers’ first home game, and the upcoming Miracle League season, where players will help out as buddies for the students that are participating in the baseball game.
The club also helps with the recruiting efforts of its players by investing into accounts on Hudl, which is a highlight account that allows young athletes be able to highlight their play and trade it on social media to try to get scholarships for school.
“We’re also like a liaison between parents and the coaches,” said Jessica Adams, the club’s secretary. “We make sure that the communication is there. Oftentimes, parents will come to us with concerns, and then we relay those to the other officers or to the coaching staff and make sure we address those concerns and that everybody is on the same page.”
Brett Jacobs, the president of the Newton Touchdown Club, has been involved for five years. According to Jacobs, booster clubs help provide resources that the schools and counties cannot.
“For [Newton’s] trip to Lowndes High, I always meet them halfway and feed them, and I meet them at the pregame meals and take care of that and feed them after the game, so I’m involved all the time,” he said. “I’ve known most of those kids and most of those kids know me. Our staff is very involved with concessions, but I’m more involved with them on a day-to-day basis.”
The Newton club also hold events of its own. In addition to its regular booster club meetings, the club also hosts a recruiting meeting with a recruiting representative that talks to the parents about what they need to expect and do during the recruiting process. The club is also hoping to host a Taste of Newton event next year. According to Jacobs, the club is looking to become more involved with the community but first needs more help from parents.
“We get invited to other things in the county, like back-to-school events, and we’re trying to get more involved,” he said. “We don’t really get to do a lot because we have parent involvement, but not as much as I would like to.”
For the Eastside Touchdown Club, led by president Craig Stevens, corporate sponsorships have become a major addition.
“We have kicked off a corporate sponsorship in the last two years where we’ve been getting community involvement as far as corporations coming in a buying a tier as a sponsor,” Stevens said. “Our main thing with that was to get the community involved, get everybody involved, like Zaxby’s, Chick Fil-A, Ginn Motors, and Newton Federal. They’ve been some of the big ones, but have about 26, 27 corporate sponsors that have been running with us for the past two years, and we’re hoping to continue it.”
For those looking to be involved with their school’s booster club, gaining membership is relatively easy. According to Kim Adams of the Alcovy booster club, being an Alcovy player’s parent grants automatic membership.
“We do not have any booster club fees,” she said. “As long as your kid is on the team, you’re automatically a booster club member. Football doesn’t charge anything. We just ask parents to participate in everything that we set up for the kids.”
At Newton, a small membership fee gets parents tickets to home games, as well as special parking passes.
“They also get some kind of apparel, and this year we’re offering hoodies,” Jacobs said. “What we ask for in return other than the fees is just help with the concession stand and help doing fundraisers, because we do a lot of fundraisers throughout the year.”
Eastside’s Stevens encourages everyone, not just parents, to get involved with their school’s booster club.
“Anybody could be a member,” he said. “We encourage not just players’ parents, but also grandparents or anybody that is involved with going to the games on Friday nights.”
For the officers of the club, participating has been a rewarding experience.
“I love it,” Wilcox said. “There’s a lot of back and forth, making sure the concession stand is stocked, making sure our tables are up, making sure our banners are out. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very fulfilling because we know that our boys don’t go without. There’s just this light in their eyes this year. They are hungry and very committed to the team, and it just gives me pleasure to make sure they have the tools that they need and the majority of what they want so they can just focus on grades and the sport.”