Ask any high school football player about how it is to get through a season, and there’s a good chance most of them will say it’s no easy task.
In the preseason, the veteran players try to mesh with the newcomers, and the coaches get an idea of how the team is going to come together. A lot of time is spent on the field and in the weight room, sometimes practicing multiple times a day.
Once the season starts, they have to balance practices and games with schoolwork, extracurricular activities and in some cases, jobs. That’s over a span of three or four months.
Through the grind of the season, having support makes a world of difference.
For Brownstown Central High School’s football team, that’s where the Parents Offering Positive Support Club comes into play.
When Reed May became head coach in 1994, the club was created to support the needs of the high school football team.
Now, the group’s efforts support the program’s players from third grade to 12th grade.
Angie Patman, mother of junior Brendan Patman, said being a part of the club allows her to not only be a supporter of her son but to all of the players.
“I enjoy it when other kids in my son’s class that I’ve known their whole life come up and call me ‘Mom’ and say ‘Thanks, Mom, we really appreciate it,’” Patman said.
“I’m glad I’m there for another kid to show that I support them. I think a lot of times, it’s good to have someone that’s not your parents there, too.”
‘It means a lot to them’
Emily Darlage, mother of sophomore Dane Darlage, said that lets the players know a lot of people have their best interest in mind.“When someone else is taking their time out to do something for those kids, I think it means a lot to them,” she said. “They get that it’s not just them, it’s everyone.”
The parental support also makes the players work harder, said Karen Hauer, mother of senior Clark Hauer.
“I think when the boys see that you are interested and supporting, they will work a little harder to achieve,” she said. “As they know people are watching them, it’s not just their parents, it’s the whole town and community supporting them.”
This week, the players, parents, coaches and community have been even more pumped up than previous weeks with the Braves preparing for their first Class 3A semistate game. At 7:30 p.m. today, Brownstown plays at Lawrenceburg with a berth in the Class 3A state championship game on the line.
Brownstown’s previous semistate appearances, in 2004 and 2008, were when the school was in Class 2A. It moved up to 3A in 2011.
The excitement of the players and coaches has trickled down to the parents.
Patman said her son has been in “a crazy good mood.”
“We love Lawrenceburg’s field, and my son, after we won (regional), he said it has always been a dream to play there, and he loves that field,” she said. “I was like, ‘Well, you’re making that dream happen.’ It makes us happy to see them happy.”
With a win tonight, the Braves would make history, so that is a driving factor for the team, Patman said.
“I’m ready, and I’m sure they are,” she said.
Even some of the Braves’ opponents this season have sent their congratulations and well-wishes, Patman said. A few also have noted the good attitudes of the players and the strong community backing.
“Most of it, I think, is just our boys,” Patman said. “They are just appreciative, and our kids show the other teams respect. There’s always, I’m sure, a little mouthing out on the field, but as far as helping kids up, they are just so respectful to everybody.”
The Brownstown Central football program has a solid history of parental backing.Cathy Stuckwisch, a member of the first P.O.P.S. Club, said the group formed at May’s request and immediately began thinking of ways to raise money to support the high school team. Her son, Marty, was on the team at the time.
“We wanted to have food for them after and before games,” she said. “Our whole goal was to be a support. Even though we weren’t on the field, we were there supporting them the whole way.”
To raise money, the club conducted meals outside the school before games, giving the community a chance to eat and socialize.
“That was a really fun part because that brought the parents together, and it made them work to support their son and the whole team,” Stuckwisch said. “That was really, I think, where the whole concept started from, to get everybody working together. That took off with a bang.”
Soon, other sports teams at the school began having parents work together.
Changes over the years
Stuckwisch said she’s glad to see the P.O.P.S. Club is still going today.One big difference, though, is that fundraising is now done for the entire program.
Now, about $50,000 is raised each season to fund the needs of third- through 12th-grade football, said Tami Hall, the P.O.P.S. Club treasurer. The money allows the club to buy meals for the team throughout the season and also to buy needed equipment.
Before the season starts, the big fundraiser is selling T-shirts, hats and Brave Backer cards. They also raise money through a golf scramble and a Dancing With the Stars event. The latter fundraiser has brought in more than $10,000 each of the past three years. Also, a chili supper is conducted during the basketball season.
Once the season arrives, the high school players — including the freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams — are fed before and after games.
Specials meals are conducted by the parents the week of the Jackson Bowl rivalry game against Seymour and during the postseason, but P.O.P.S. Club funds aren’t always used.
This week, the parents are feeding the players every night after practice.
T-shirt sales to benefit cancer research also are conducted, and shirts have been sold this year to commemorate the sectional and regional titles. Yard signs are sold, too, and the club organizes postseason pep sessions for the community to attend.
Working as a team
Another tradition for the parents is decorating the varsity team’s locker room Thursday nights before games.Shannon Neal, mother of sophomore Braden Neal and senior Tyler Neal, has spearheaded that effort the past four years.
“I love it because I get to work with a great group of parents that have the same interest,” Neal said. “Our kids seem to love the extra things the parents do for them. They get excited on Thursdays to see what the parents come up with in the locker room. They get pumped, and that fuels the parents to keep it up.”
She comes up with decorating themes each week and also takes suggestions from other parents.
“No matter what crazy decorating idea I get or demands I ask of them, they always make it work. We have worked as a team,” Neal said. “Everyone isn’t available all of the time, so we each do what we have to get things done. I have never been told by any of my parents ‘no.’ If I ask them to get, do or be somewhere, they have done it.”
Darlage said the players always acknowledge the parents for their support.
“It’s exciting to me as a parent to see how much they enjoy it and how grateful they are. They have gone through and said ‘thank you’ every single time,” she said of the players’ reaction to the locker room decorations.
“In fact, at the pep rally after the big (regional) win, the seniors that got to speak gave credit to all of the work the parents do,” Darlage said. “That makes you feel proud as a parent that ‘OK, they get that we don’t have to do this and appreciate what’s done for them.’”
Each football team is unique, and with this year’s squad, Patman said they just click.
“Our linemen are such great friends. I think our quarterback knows that he needs those linemen, so he makes sure they are fed,” she said, smiling. “They just take care of each other, and they all just mesh this year.”
Darlage said they also spend time together outside of football.
“I think overall as a team, they click, they look out for each other and they enjoy being around each other,” she said.
Neal said it’s great to see the team’s season still going.
“These last few weeks have been an extra bonus,” she said. “Our kids have worked hard to get to where they are, and as a parent, we will do all we can to support them and make these memories the best.”