The All-Important Booster Club

D. Mark Mitchell



Student-athletes at Opelika Middle School (OMS) and Opelika High School (OHS) have plenty to do as fall sports approach. Athletic teams such as cross country, volleyball and football will soon be practicing every weekday in preparation for the first contest.

Head football coach Erik Speakman worked his team Monday and Tuesday before giving the athletes off until Monday (Aug. 1). The Bulldogs will have two full weeks before preparing for Callaway the week of Aug. 15.

When you think about high school sports, Friday night football comes to mind. Yes, students participate in numerous sports affiliated with the AHSAA and Opelika City Schools (OCS), but football attendance translates to money for athletics.

Money is essential in order to run a first-class program. If you ask a parent of a child who plays a sport, “What is the most important sport at OHS?”, the answer in probably “The one my child plays.”

No matter the sport, nor if it draws crowds, the student-athlete should wear the best uniform, have the most up-to-date equipment and all resources necessary to compete at a high level — the championship level. For many years, Opelika received financial help from businesses and boosters through the “Quarterback Club” and “The All-Sports Booster Club”.

The Opelika High “Quarterback Club” was a group of people in the community who wanted to help Opelika High athletics by raising funds, meals and whatever was requested to help a team. The board of directors was not employed by Opelika City Schools, just supporters of Opelika athletics.

Every year, the QB Club raised funds by selling ads for the program, running concession stands at sporting events and holding fundraising events throughout the year.

I saw the importance of the booster club while attending OHS. As a sophomore, I started helping the broadcast team. By the time my senior year rolled around, I was handling the play-by-play duties, which helped me learn the importance of raising booster club money. The extra money went a long way for all the sports covered under athletics.

In 1990, coach Doug Barfield was hired after coach Joe Wilson retired. Barfield brought knowledge of college athletics, which included ways to fundraise. After the first season, Barfield asked the Quarterback Club board members to a meeting.

Some of the board members included Margaret Askew (treasurer), Tim Gore, Rusty Melnick, Jimmy Yates, Tom Rickles, Armond Crowder, Stanley Campbell and myself (I apologize if I omitted someone.).

Barfield wanted to expand the Quarter Back to a club that would benefit all sports associated with OCS. Barfield and the board named the new athletic boosters “The All-Sports Booster Club”. The board sat down and developed four different tiers of sponsorship, from $250 to $1,500 per package. The packages gave options to a business, booster or corporate partner for passes to home sporting events, reserved parking in a special place at Bulldog Stadium, an ad in the football program and a few other perks.

A business could support every sport at OHS by making a one-time donation each school year. The late Askew was the long-time treasurer of the QB Club and All-Sports Booster Club. After she passed away, I asked then-OCS Superintendent Dr. J. Phillip Raley if the All-Sports Booster Club funds could go in an account under the watchful eye of the OCS bookkeeper. The money could only be spent by the ASBC board and required a signature from the president or board member on a purchase order before any of the money was used.

Over time, the All-Sports Booster Club has raised over $1 million dollars for OHS and OMS athletics. The program became a favorite to sponsors, and teams were able to get financial support each year. On top of the list of board members mentioned before, many other Opelika citizens served as an officer or board member, including Eddie Smith, Ronnie Wilson, Jeff Sasser, Mike Mann, Joel Lawrence, Adrian Yountz, Trip Garner, Brent Milner, Marcus Ware, Jasper Snipes, Randy Lambert, Teresa Ogletree and many others.

Today, the All-Sports Booster Club has no officers or board members. The ASBC is governed by the athletic director with no involvement from anyone outside of the athletic department. In the spring of 2018, I (D. Mark) resigned as president of the ASBC. The following day, every officer and board member resigned their position.

OHS Principal Kellie Fischer released a financial statement and expressed the importance of donations to help OHS athletics.

OHS received $85,267 from corporate sponsors and program ad sales. OMS Athletics received $6,000; OHS Athletics received $42,000.

The account has a balance of $28,722, which includes $40,694 that was in the account June 2021.

Opelika moves to class 7A this year. It is in the best interest of Opelika High School to have a booster club governed by OHS graduates, Opelika supporters and Opelika fans. Having people that live in the community serving as board members is the reason the All-Sports Booster Club has been successful since 1990. Opelika supporters formed the Quarterback Club and the All-Sports Booster Club.


iHeartRadio Auburn-Opelika held its fifth High School Media Days presented by the Orthopaedic Clinic and FOX Sports the Game 910-1310 and the Bottling Plant Event Center, Tuesday and Wednesday. Twenty-two high school head football coaches and three to four players from each team spent 15 to 20 minutes at the podium discussing the upcoming season.

This is the fifth time iHeartRadio teamed with the Orthopaedic Clinic and Bottling Plant Event Center to host the two-day media blitz. Media members attending were from Montgomery, Opelika, Auburn, Columbus, Valley, Lanett, Dadeville, Alex City and other print and digital media outlets. The event was aired live on FOX Sports the Game, WOTM-TV (AHSAA TV Partners) and on the iHeartRadio app.

D. Mark Mitchell is the sports director at iHeartMedia, host of “On the Mark” Fox Sports the Game 910-1310, co-chair of the Auburn-Opelika Sports Council, chairman of the Super 7 and Dixie Boys Baseball state director


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