Home | Sample Articles | Big-Time Boosters
Well-run, well-attended booster clubs
make a huge difference for some football programs.
By Scott Kraft
Your Booster Club - Tips to excite your boosters
about fundraising, helping your program succeed.
Innovative Fundraising Ideas
- Here are some fundraising ideas your booster
club can consider to raise anywhere from a little to a lot of
money to support the football program.
The football boosters
at Hoover High School in Birmingham, Ala., bring in over $300,000
for the program every year, part of the over $800,000 raised for
athletic programs at the school. Rush Propst, the schools
athletic director and football coach, says the clubs long-term
goal is to build an indoor practice facility for the football team.
We have things a lot of high schools dont have,
Propst says, noting that every position at the school has its own
projector for game film, while other high schools might have only
two for the entire program.
We feel like were an elite program, or we want to be.
Weve sold our parents on settling for nothing but the best,
Propst says. Without the booster club, that wouldnt
The reality is, a strong, motivated club of boosters can do a whole
lot for a football program. Some factors, such as community wealth,
will always separate some clubs from others. And on-field success
is also a prime motivator for a booster club.
But the coaches and booster representatives who spoke with American
Football Monthly spoke about other common themes, such as mutual
respect, ground rules that encourage the coach and all of the boosters
to participate, parent access to the head coach and respect for
the coachs control over playing time and on-field decisions.
Basically, they like each other a lot.
The Money, and the Bigger Picture
Think of your booster club as an investor, and think of your football
program as a company that issues stock. If you only see your booster
club as a vehicle to get your program what it needs to be competitive
uniforms, equipment, projectors, good meals for your players
while keeping issues like fundraising and common parent gripes
about their sons playing time at a comfortable distance, youre
missing the boat by half.
The investor analogy the financial investment your booster
club makes in your program is a way to give your program the tools
and facilities needed to gain a competitive edge. Like any investor,
however, the booster club wants a return on its investment. The
boosters, often parents, want to see the team win games. But as
parents, they also want to see the impact the football program is
having on the lives of their children. They want to see firsthand
how your football program is helping their sons become men.
They want a closer look than the one they get from the sidelines
on Friday night, or in periodic reports from you. They want to be
involved in a quantifiable way in the success of their sons.
When Ron Johnson left his job as an assistant at the University
of Miami (Ohio), to take over as head coach at Westside High School
in Westside, Ohio, he began a program called the Afterglow, designed
to bring the coaches, parents and players together after games not
to re-enact what just happened on the field, but just to spend time
time parents may not have with their sons again for the rest
of the weekend.
We keep the kids right after school. They watch film, eat
a pre-game meal, dress, then go play, Johnson says. Ordinarily,
we play on Friday night. After the game, the kids usually hook-up
with their buddies to get a pizza or something. The next day, we
practice at 8 a.m. After the walk-through, they hook-up with the
guys again, then they go to sleep. Sunday could be the first time
they see their parents since Thursday night. Theres no time
for family time.
The Afterglow, Johnson says, is a chance for the players to spend
time with their families, program alums and other boosters right
after the game. It never lasts more than 30 minutes, he notes, and
the group just enjoys soft drinks and desserts. While the meeting
itself isnt fueled on emotion, it helps the kids to decompress.
Weve all been part of the emotion of winning and losing.
You get with your buddies after the game, do what youre not
supposed to do, Johnson says. This allows you to gather
yourself. By that time, you go to bed with your focus back.
Equally important, Johnson has created and implemented a chance
for parents to be with their sons and the football program
right after the game.
Anytime youre more vested youve got all
of your chips in the middle its hard to fold,
Johnson says. We dont ask for anything. We do things
to get the boosters to be a part of the team an emotional
and time investment in time we get the financial support
Lead your team of boosters
Terry Isaminger is the past president of the Hoover High School
Booster Club. He credits Coach Propst for the groups prolific
Because of the coachs involvement, parents are willing
to do anything for the kids, Isaminger says. It starts
with the leadership from the coach. The key to a successful booster
club is for the coach to communicate to the parents through the
president of the booster club.
Like Johnson, Propst has time set aside for all of the parents.
On Friday afternoon, he and some of his assistants eat lunch at
a local restaurant with as many as 40 fathers of his players.
Weve played out the whole game by the time it starts,
Isaminger says with a laugh not the laugh of a parent pressuring
a coach, but the laugh of a parent who feels vested in the programs
Propst also hosts, on a rotating basis, 12 parents for a Thursday
morning breakfast every week. Isaminger says the program is so popular,
the boosters no longer worry about parents calling to confirm theyll
attend. They just open the doors and the parents come.
He tells parents what the booster club is all about,
Isaminger said. He is in a small setting to meet the parents
and share his philosophies and what to expect not just during
the season but all of the time.
Mike Mischler, head coach at Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep High School,
meets with the boosters weekly in season, bi-weekly as the season
approaches and monthly in the offseason. He has expectations for
the boosters and they know it.
We want to be surrounded with organized, highly motivated
people there for the right reasons, Mischler says. If
youre there to get more playing time for your son, then we
dont want you.
Johnson shared the same concerns, but noted the coach sets the tone
by conveying his expectations to the booster club, and inviting
them to take ownership of the program. When parents come together
and work together for the common goals of the team,
and come to know each other as friends, he says many of the concerns
about individual playing time are lost in the goals of the team.
Its no different from coaching your team, Johnson
says. This is another team now youre dealing
with adults. You want them to have the same goals as the kids -
to have the most beneficial experience and the most team success.
When Propst became athletic director at Hoover, he broke up the
schools one booster club so that each sport had its
own club. The result was a 10-fold increase in annual donations
after three years.
Its a way to declare ownership in a sport, Propst
says. If a dads going to donate $5-10,000 to soccer,
he knows its spent on that team. With the old budget, you
didnt know that. Weve got more parent support than weve
The 80/20 Rule
Mike Mischler, head coach of Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep High School,
the challenge can be even greater. Because its a private school,
Mischler doesnt have any public funding to fall back on.
As a result, its more critical he gets more parents
and players involved in fundraising.
Every kid helps in fundraising everyones got
ownership, pitches in and takes responsibility, Mischler said.
If a kid forgets his equipment, he knows how much it costs
to buy football equipment by having ownership in the program.
It also helps bring in more parental involvement. Mischler talked
about having mandatory fundraisers he hasnt doneit
yet to beat the 80/20 rule 20 percent of the
people doing 80 percent of the work.
Part of that is creating excitement around the program.
When you get the people around you excited, theyre willing
to go the extra mile, Mischler said. Some people can
do an amazing amount of work. Some without ties to the program.
They no longer have a son in the program, but come back because
it was one of the best experiences theyve ever had.
Thats when your booster club is on its way to success. Isaminger
also talked about breaking down the 80/20 rule.
Parents who cant afford booster club expenses, he notes, are
brought into the program at no cost and asked to help out
to take ownership.
Doing the key work is how it is in our club, Isaminger
says. We have a saying youre not a booster until
youre cleaning the cafeteria after we feed the kids at night
and a garbage bag bursts open on you.