EASTHAM — The concession stand was easy for Lisa Still and Dawn O’Neil to manage during the Nauset High homecoming football game on Oct. 15. That night, students at the school sold hot dogs and hamburgers at their own stands to raise money for their respective classes.
During most Nauset football and soccer games, the stand is bustling. Still, who is President of the Nauset Warriors Booster Club; O’Neill, who is on the club’s board; and a rotating roster of parent volunteers handle the concessions like ballpark champs — but they don’t have much of a bench to back them up.
The club’s efforts go far beyond the snack stands, varsity jackets, and plaques that are traditional for most booster clubs, explained Paul Bohannon. He and his wife, Audrey, have been involved in the club since 1992, when their son Adam, who is now chief of police in Eastham, was a freshman athlete at the high school.
“It was a group of half a dozen to eight people back then,” Paul Bohannon said. Now, the club, which was reorganized in 2011 to bring together three different booster groups, has 40 members. Once that happened, Bohannon said, the club was able to put together a bigger fundraising operation. “We were able to buy certain pieces of equipment for the teams that the school didn’t find a spot in their budgets for,” he said.
Their most visible achievement was to fund, with both loans and donations, Nauset High’s turf field, which made its debut in 2014. “Without the booster club, that field probably wouldn’t exist,” Bohannon said.
Through fundraising efforts and other avenues like the concession stand, the club paid off its almost $600,000 debt for the turf in just five years. The club has an annual budget of about $100,000.
Still said what she’s most proud of is that, through the club’s efforts, NRHS parents don’t have to pay out of pocket for their children to participate in sports at the school.
“Some districts are charging families for sports with an activity fee,” she said. “Nauset doesn’t have that, and the reason is what the boosters are able to do. Parents shouldn’t have to say my kid can’t play because of $300 per season. Athletics are an integral part of every student’s academic experience.”
The credit goes to hundreds of parents and volunteers doing hands-on work, Bohannon said. He sees the club at a critical juncture. “The future of this depends on people stepping up to take part,” he said.
The elder Bohannons are what you might call super boosters. They played sports at Nauset High School when they attended decades ago. The couple established the Bohannon scholarships, which now provide more than $8,000 each spring for senior athletes who are going on to college.
It makes sense that most people, once their children are through high school, move on to other causes, Bohannon said.
That leaves “a small group doing a lot of work,” O’Neil said. There are usually a few parents to help out at games. One mother, O’Neil noted, drives from Cotuit to help at the concession stand when she can. But the club needs more consistent volunteer help.
O’Neil, who teaches at Nauset Middle School, has been handling stand duties for the last four or five years and currently has a daughter who is a junior at Nauset. She’s looking for someone else to take on that role.
Still, who is in her second year as club president, works as an attorney for a title insurance company. She also has a daughter, Savannah Still, who is a junior on the field hockey team at Nauset.
More than anything, the two are hoping a few parents will step into volunteer leadership roles this year.
“I’m looking to pass the torch,” said O’Neil.
“We’d like to see some more of the parents of student athletes come out and give us a hand,” Bohannon said.