Touchdown Club to Host Chalk Talk for Mothers

By Beacon Staff

These mothers want to learn more about x’s and o’s. But it has nothing to do with hugs and kisses. It’s a matter of football.

On Aug. 15, the “Flathead Touchdown Club,” a group dedicated to supporting Flathead High School’s football program, is holding its first annual “Female Football Fans Frolic.” Head football coach Russell McCarvel will lead a chalk talk session in which he will explain football terminology, plays and anything else the attendees want to know.

While the event is open to anybody, it’s really for the mothers. For a $10 early entry fee or $15 at the door, the night includes light appetizers, beverages, a raffle, door prizes and football film sessions. It will be held at the Flathead High School commons area from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Proceeds will fund the event. Any leftover funds will go the Touchdown Club.

“We asked (McCarvel), ‘Could we have a night and help some of us mothers understand football better?’” said Lori VanArendonk of the Touchdown Club.

“The interest is high,” she added.

Two decades ago, a small group of businessmen began meeting with head football coach Bob Applegate to figure out ways to raise more money for the team, said John VanArendonk, Lori’s husband and also a president of the Touchdown Club. At the time, it was called the Quarterback Club, a name that was used up until last year. This year is the first under the name Touchdown Club.

Over the years, the Quarterback Club grew steadily. It raised money to buy additional equipment for the football team that couldn’t be purchased through the school district’s budget, John VanArendonk said. The club, which works closely with the football team’s coaching staff, is not associated with School District 5.

Now, in the third year of Kalispell’s high school split, the club is making a renewed push to not only encourage financial support but also general community support for Flathead High School athletics. The club is planning a number of fundraising projects.

When Glacier High School opened in 2007, the dynamic of Flathead High School’s fan base changed. For parents of Glacier students, it shifted their loyalty to the new school. For fans with no kids in the school, it presented the option of two teams to cheer for after decades of having only one team in town.

John VanArendonk said the split “has been kind of hard on” Flathead High School. But he feels with the efforts of groups like the Touchdown Club, community support that has waned could be revived.

“(The school) has such a distinguished legacy; we don’t want to see that go away,” he said. “We want to maintain the legacy and move it forward and do something positive.”

One of the first items on the Touchdown Club’s to-do list is the purchase of a new headset for McCarvel to use in games. The club will also provide drinks and goodie bags for teams on road trips, Lori VanArendonk said.

Membership fees help fund the Touchdown Club. For a $25 fee, members get a T-shirt. For $100, they get the shirt, an 8- by 10-inch framed photo of the team and their name or business name in the football program. Members who pay $250 get everything included in the $100 package plus a pass to all fall and winter sports games.

The club held its first meeting of the year in June, an informational gathering at Fatt Boys Bar and Grille. Fatt Boys donated steak dinners for the more than 50 people who attended.

“It was well received,” Lori VanArendonk said.

Practice is already underway for fall sports and the first day of school is Aug. 26. Nancee Olszewski, a member of the Touchdown Club, said the Aug. 15 event is a nice way to kick off the 2009-2010 season.

“We just need to do something positive,” she said. “It’s time.”

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