On the field this fall, the Denton Braswell football team enjoyed its best season since fielding its first varsity team in 2016.
Off the field, the Braswell Football Booster Club is experiencing the same success. With just 26 members three years ago, the club has more than doubled, and upwards of 70 members are each doing their part to get the Bengals on a similar trajectory to the district’s more established programs at Ryan and Guyer.
“We are a growing club,” Randal Locke, the club’s president, said. “We’re still trying to get everyone to understand how much we need to do. Success on the field should help more people want to be involved. I hope next year we can get close to 100 members.”
Membership has its privileges, including being on the front lines supporting a growing program on an upward trajectory. The club holds several fundraisers throughout the year, and the money raised gets put back into the program in several different areas, most notably education and equipment to enhance player safety.
Locke said the club helps cover the cost of the coaching staff’s travel when it visits colleges and other high schools around the state to study strategies and talk about what successful programs hang their helmets on.
“We’ve purchased a big mat that the team uses during practice when it’s going through hand-to-hand drills,” Locke said. “We purchased 25 soft helmets that the players can wear during 7-on-7.”
This year, Locke said, the club wants to continue making sure that players are protected any time they aren’t wearing full pads. In addition to adding more soft helmets so players can wear them during practices, Locke said shoulder pads are also on the wish list.
“We’re looking to add about 25 of the softer shoulder pads and 50 more sets of the 7on7 soft helmets,” he said. “They can wear them during normal practices to minimize the risk of concussion.”
The soft helmets and pads come with a hefty price tag, but Locke said the club won’t sacrifice when it comes to providing players with tools to enhance their safety. That means stepping up fundraising efforts, which include the concession stands during subvarsity games, community sponsorships, advertising in the football program sold during games, a golf tournament and, new this year, a 7on7 tournament.
“All of these events help us work toward our goal,” he said. “What does the program need next month, in the next six months, or next year? Once we take care of things they need, we can look at things that would be nice to have.”
On the horizon, Locke said, the club wants to add a trailer that can get more equipment to and from games, as well as booster club spirit merchandise, a new inflatable tunnel and window decals that will serve two purposes on the Braswell field house.
“The building itself has a lot of windows, and the sun comes in,” Locke said. “The decals will make it look really cool on the outside, but also provide some tinting and protection from the sunlight on the inside.”
Locke knows that as the program continues to mature and grow, so will its needs. Along with the growing membership, Locke and the board will continue to look for ways to increase support, both in membership numbers and fundraising opportunities. Along with the golf tournament, Locke said the club will organize a number of community-facing events.
“Anything we can do to build the relationship between the team and community is big,” he said. “We want to do cookouts where the kids can mingle with the community. The spring game will be another showcase event for us where we can bring the kids, the parents and the boosters together. Football is hard work. You want it to be fun as well.”
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