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The Parrot

The Team Behind The Players

The buzzer rings across the field as the home team scores the winning point, the crowd jumping out of their seats with pure enthusiasm. The players rejoice in each other’s arms, celebrating the end of an amazing season and the hours of practice finally paying off. Yet behind every success story, there is a hard-working group of coaches and parents whose unseen actions from the sidelines help improve their team every season. 

Known as booster clubs, they are found at almost every high school in the country and are the supporting backbone of their team and activity. Whether cheering on from the stands or raising money for the team, the booster club represents a vital part of a successful team. While the main purpose of a booster club is to raise money through fundraising to help pay for extra expenses not covered by the school budget, such as equipment and competitions, the extra joy and excitement brought to the students is what makes a booster club truly amazing.

Audubon High School is proudly represented by the Green Wave Football team, run by Head Coach Daniel Reed. Behind the scenes, the team is supported by a network of hard-working parents who contribute whenever and wherever it is needed.

“Our parents provide us a great opportunity to improve the program that we would not be able to do with solely school funding,” said Coach Reed.

You’ll find different members working alongside the coaching staff, raising funds for general and strength equipment to better the team. Others are dedicated to providing nutritious snacks such as protein bars and Gatorade. Some take time out of their day to host breakfast or dinner on game day. Beyond providing healthy snacks and meals, the booster club gives football scholarships to its players, representing the booster club’s pride for the team and students. Through these efforts, students can focus on playing football to the best of their ability without worrying about a solid meal before a game.

For a team to succeed, the right tools vary depending on the sport. For indoor and girls’ track, updated equipment is the name of the game for a successful team. Their booster club is run mainly by the coaching staff, including Coach Dan Cosenza, which focuses on raising funds to keep up with the modern track world. Shot puts, javelin poles, medicine balls, hurdles, weight sleds, etc., are all essential equipment that needs to be kept up to date or replaced if broken. Additionally, the growing size of the track program has led to a greater need for the booster club money pool to provide every student-athlete with the opportunity to compete, whether in varsity or junior varsity. 

With such a heavy emphasis on equipment funding and equal opportunities, the booster club has dabbled in various methods. Parents have run raffle and wheel-with-baskets fundraisers, and donations are always welcome through Snap Raise, an electronic fundraising app. This extra boost in the track budget from the booster club allows the coaches to provide the best equipment possible and numerous competition opportunities to all students, enriching the track program and experience.

However, the true importance of a booster club is shown when a team finds itself without one. Online fundraising can cover a portion of the team’s needs, though it is unequal to a booster club. This leads to equipment replacement being held off for another year, competition costs falling onto the students and team-bonding activities left out of the season. Team performance depends on participation and equipment, with an unsupported team facing a jagged climb to success, a path made smoother by a booster club. While a non-existent booster challenges the success of any group, parent involvement lessens the blow, running fundraising events and forging a strong connection between the community and team.

While it might seem like running a booster club is a breeze to the outside world, covering the diverse needs of the activity entails a mountain load of work to get it all done. This is especially true for the marching band booster club, which is run by Jaime Perry, a marching band parent herself. As the club president, she has to ensure everything runs smoothly, as the club handles meals before competitions, prepares uniforms, runs fundraisers, transports instruments, and moves the front ensemble and props on and off the field. Every booster parent contributes to the group, dedicating as much time as needed to get the job done. Food duty requires donating money or preparing different dishes for over 30 students, keeping in mind any dietary restrictions a student may have. Uniform checking is done to ensure every set is put away properly in their garment bag, while the ironing and fitting of every uniform for hours is done to make sure every student looks their best on the field.

The out-of-pocket cost of running a marching band can be taxing on the program, with instructors wondering if they will have money to afford new equipment, competition admissions and prop materials. To relieve a portion of this financial burden, the marching band booster club has run a diverse set of fundraisers over the years, including coin tosses, Snap Raise, mattress sales, cheesecakes and even wrapping paper! While a majority of the money raised goes to supporting the marching band, some is put aside to pay for team bonding activities for the students. Marching band members enjoy band camp fund days, hayrides, mini golf and end-of-the-season parties thanks to the booster club and its members.

Perhaps the most challenging part of marching is the physical transportation of all the band equipment, though it is handled amazingly by the booster club. Every instrument, guard flag, speaker and prop must fit into one trailer and truck, each fitting into place like a giant Tetris game. Known as the pit crew, these booster club members help load the trailer every competition day, whether in the early hours of the morning or late at night. While pushing props and instruments on and off the field can be strenuous, the parents find joy in being able to help the marching band come onto the field with confidence. This parent involvement is the lifeblood of the marching band booster club, helping their children succeed at every practice and competition during the season.

A close-knit connection between the coaches, boosters and students creates a better playing environment for the team, with the receiving support allowing the students to feel prepared for every game, knowing that their instructors and parents have their back. When it comes to the girls’ basketball team, they receive extraordinary support from their coach, Bridget Garrity-Bantle, and their booster club, run by Danielle Headley. Coach Bridget is a powerful female role model to her players, making dinner for the team and letting them know they can pursue anything in life. According to Headley, the booster club provides “a safe place for players who can not go home between school and practice so they can do homework.”

Rides are always available if their parents or guardians are unable to transport them to or from practices and games. To help fund the team, the booster club runs a snack stand at every home game and manages a basketball merchandise online store. Furthermore, the club holds an end-of-the-year banquet and team-bonding activities to bring the team together and show their appreciation for the players. Additionally, the booster club for the girls’ basketball team reaches out to senior citizens for them to attend games as a social event, as well as have the younger girls’ basketball team come to support the high school players.

Connecting with different communities centered around a common interest is often found within different sports, including Audubon’s wrestling team. These relationships are forged through the booster club connections with members of different clubs, with even the wrestling coach, John Walsh, being stopped on the street by those familiar with the team.

As stated by Coach Walsh, “Wrestling is like a fraternity. When you watch your wrestlers change throughout the season from the stands, it’s a different experience.”

The booster club handles fundraising for the team, paying for equipment, singlets, championship jackets and cleaning supplies for the wrestlers. At every tournament, the team can find healthy snacks, water and a ride for out-of-season matches. If someone is ever in need, the booster club is there to help, offering a 50% discount on wrestling camp if a player is facing financial hardship. Whether it is running a beef and beer fundraiser or organizing an end-of-the-year party, the booster club removes some of the pressure off of the coaching staff to help push the wrestlers towards success and a fulfilling wrestling experience.

While some believe that a booster club is only used for fundraising and equipment management, most go out of their way to provide a memorable experience to the players while they are a part of the team. True, clubs like the field hockey booster club sell goods and host dine-and-donate events for fundraising, but they also strived to keep their players safe from COVID-19, buying individual equipment to continue the sport through the pandemic. They have organized pasty parties and taken the team to a Phillies game, all to better the players and show them their support throughout the season. Going beyond the minimum of a booster club’s duties is what drives success in a team, as the effort that every member puts in is seen and appreciated by the students.

The responsibilities and complexity of a booster club are as diverse as every activity, with each club facing a different challenge every season. While their work is sometimes never seen or noticed on the playing field, the team they support recognizes the effort put in by those who love them and the group. Parents and coaches are working every day to better the team as much as possible, whether it is through fundraising, team-building events, equipment maintenance, or helping any player in need. For a team is never truly successful without its supporting backbone, the booster club.

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