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Senior football players from Columbus North and Columbus East high schools realize that some of the best moments of their lives are about to race past.
But as the 2013 season begins tonight — North hosts Plainfield at 7 p.m. and East travels to Bloomington North for a kickoff at the same time — there is another group that is getting excited about the start of a new season.
Carol Geraghty, who heads the Olympians Quarterback Club, will be watching her son Kian, an East linebacker, begin his final high school season.
“He is my last,” said Geraghty, whose daughter, Kapri, is a freshman at Indiana University after graduating from East.
Carol Geraghty knew this time would be special, so she wanted to do everything in her power to make her children’s high school experience memorable. To that end, she has volunteered her time to run the football team’s booster group, which totals about 230 members, for the past two school years.
“I was petrified,” Geraghty said about taking over the group, which raises money for the program and performs other tasks, such as feeding the players during training camp and before games. “But Aleta Kiel (mother of former East quarterbacks Drew, Dusty and Gunner Kiel) ran the group for years, and she did such a good job setting it up.
“We have a very organized parents group, and it’s not a one-person deal. It’s been very good with people stepping up and helping out. The majority of people do what they say.”
Like East, North has very organized booster groups.
“Right now, it’s just standard operating procedure for us,” said Laura Grana, who leads about 200 Columbus North boosters. “Football season is beginning, but it’s really nothing different than we normally do.
“We do take the summer off a little, but we got busy on the Blue and White Day (Aug. 10). Our boosters play a big role in the concessions, and we hold the tailgates.”
North also has a separate football parents group that performs tasks such as hosting team dinners.
However the groups operate, their efforts allow the coaching staffs at East and North to concentrate on coaching football and not on raising funds.
“Our boosters do such a great job keeping us equipped,” North coach Tim Bless said. “And our parents group within the team does a phenomenal job feeding us.”
East coach Bob Gaddis said that it is a huge task to feed 80 to 90 players and coaches on a regular basis.
While that takes quite the volunteer effort, Geraghty said it all is planned well in advance.
“We start the process in May at the football call-out meeting,” she said. “We explain some of the fundraising ideas to the parents and how we use Facebook, Twitter and email to alert them of important information.
“Not all the parents are tech savvy, so sometimes they might have to rely on their kids, but they eventually get the information.”
North’s boosters run pretty much on a year-round basis, and they use functions such as the football tailgate party as a way to attract new members.
“The tailgates are more fun than anything,” Grana said. “But it does allow people to see who we are.”
Geraghty said it is not surprising that both successful teams have successful booster groups backing them.
“I think it goes hand in hand,” she said. “Our boosters care about the kids and making sure the program is run well.”
Both schools have boosters who volunteer their time to make sure the home fields look sharp or who do behind-the-scenes jobs that most fans won’t notice.
At East, a group called the Blacksmiths (Frank Anderson, Tom Lynn, Fran Warren and Tony Patterson) proves invaluable.
They film games and practices, build ticket booths, paint the snack bar, fix busted fans used to cool the players during practice and trim trees so fans can get a good view of the championship banners.
“It’s work, no question about it,” Patterson said. “But what’s fun is watching these kids develop both emotionally and physically.”
That development will be on display tonight as the football season begins.
‘We definitely are very excited,” Geraghty said. “We have 26 senior boys on the football team, and that’s the largest number since I got involved. Some of these kids have played together since PAL.”
Geraghty sighed as she thought about her son’s final season and another task.
Training someone to take over for her next year.
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