When the quarterback calls an audible, the team must respond. In Celina, the same holds true for the Quarterback Club.
Prior to the 2019 season, Celina moved into its new $24 million stadium. One of the club’s major challenges, co-captain Chris Keaveney explained, was to ensure that all the elements of the Bobcats’ rich tradition – eight state championships, most recently in 2007 – didn’t get lost in the move.
“We’ve had to focus on striking the right balance between the new beginnings and the old traditions,” Keaveney said. “How do we carry on the old while embracing the new?”
By jumping in with both feet, he learned. The school’s new stadium and adjoining athletic facility came with all the bells and whistles that a 21st century stadium should include, including a large video display scoreboard, an indoor practice facility and expanded locker room and meeting facilities that include a dining area.
Beginning last summer, the club had to work double-time to get things ready for the season. Among the first tasks: getting the eight state championship flags – and flagpoles – relocated to the new stadium. Once the flags found their new home, the club began embracing some of the challenges that come along with producing a gameday experience in a sparkling new stadium.
“It made for a busy summer, for sure,” Keaveney said.
The club’s three-person slate of officers, which also includes captain Dave Plunkett and business manager Ryan Merchant, led the effort to make the transition a smooth one. The club created different sponsorship levels that would include video advertising and focused on signage that would be seen around the stadium. By all accounts, the club’s leadership made the right calls and the membership tasked with carrying out the new strategy executed to perfection.
“We really had to re-think our approach,” Keaveney said. “We learned a few things and we greatly expanded our sponsorship program. We were able to raise more money than we’ve ever raised before. That’s great for the overall program.”
Despite its football-centric name, the Celina Quarterback Club works behind the scenes to support all the school’s athletic programs, so the increased sponsorship revenue will allow it to do even more across the campus. Most recently, the club helped provide a new shooting machine for the basketball teams, bought new padding for the track program, new uniforms for the softball teams and helped the cheerleading team offset some of the costs associated with travel events.
“We support the entire athletic program,” Keaveney said. “When one of the programs has a need, that gets channeled to us and we have a process to get them what they need.”
The club will continue to partner its successful traditions with the new opportunities and excitement the new facility creates in the community. Keaveney pointed to annual events such as the football barbecue scrimmage and the auction.
Keaveney said the club is in the process of replacing the plaques honoring the awards given out by each of the school’s sports. The plaques will be displayed inside the new athletic complex and help bridge the gap between the past and present. The traditions, Keaveney said, are what make Celina a special community. He hears from – and works with – supporters whose children have long since graduated from Celina.
“Truly, this is a special place,” Keaveney said of his community. “People care. They are part of the tradition, and they want to carry it on. They are grateful for what the schools and the community have done for their kids, and they want to give back.”
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