This month, I had the chance to speak with Joe Gatewood, president of the Urbana High School (UHS) Athletic Boosters since June 2012. The UHS Booster club helps bridge the gaps between the financial shortfalls of public school funding for athletic programs, as well as assisting in building school spirit and good sportsmanship. Here’s a glimpse into my chat with Gatewood.
Mellott: What was your motivation in accepting this position?
Gatewood: Two years ago, I offered to become the acting vice president knowing the following year I would be president. I thought that given the opportunity, I could help affect change and work on building a stronger board; one that would be capable of providing more benefits to the overall athletic program at [UHS].
Mellott: What is your vision for the UHS Boosters?
Gatewood: To become the link between our athletic programs, the student athletes and parents, and the local community. Specifically, we want to provide our teams with a secure accounting system, major fundraising support, as well as ongoing financial support. In addition, we want to help improve communication between athlete, parent and coach, increase school spirit, develop an alumni association, and help maintain and improve the quality and beautification of our athletic facilities.
Mellott: What are some misconceptions of the Boosters Club?
Gatewood: Over the years, the impression grew that the Athletic Boosters club was strictly to benefit the football program. When I became president, I contacted the head coach of each of our teams to better understand their team needs and processes and to give them our vision and commitment to support their teams. … Many coaches still believed the Athletic Boosters club was just for the football program. From there, we have launched a campaign to better educate the parents of our student athletes as to our mission and support for all teams.
Mellott: What changes have you been responsible for since you took over as president?
Gatewood: Any changes that have been made or successes we have had over the past year have been a result of a group of incredible volunteers that make up our current Athletic Boosters board of directors. A few things we have been working on include analyzing all the different forms of fundraising activities to determine the specific ones the Boosters should focus on to generate the greatest success. We are focusing on a core number of very specific fundraising activities including concessions, online fundraising, membership and a two-way letter campaign. Our 2012-2013 budget included raising $40,000 in gross revenues through concessions. To date, we have exceeded that number, and it remains the largest fundraising effort of the year. This has proven to be a great way for teams to raise funds and we have made this option available to any team to participate.
Mellott: What are some other projects currently going on?
Gatewood: One of the first projects this year was to have new athletic directional signs made similar to the directional building signs. This type of beautification has enhanced the look and feel of our facilities. We also have formal approval from [Frederick County Public Schools and the Board of Education] to move forward on our plan to raise funds and build a new turf field and track at our stadium. We are now in the process of developing a major fundraising campaign.
Mellott: Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?
Gatewood: Volunteering is a critical part of the continued growth and success of our schools athletic programs. I am grateful for all the parents and supporters that have stepped up to help — [but] we also need help on several of our committees. We live in a wonderful community full of great people and opportunity. Remember to thank those around you who are making a difference in our community.
Editor’s Note: Timothy Mellott is an active Urbana community member, founder of Southern Frederick County Youth Athletic Facilities, a coach for Predators Wrestling, and an FCA character coach at Urbana and Seneca Valley high schools. Mellott lives in Ijamsville with his wife, Beth Ann, and son, Parker.