Making Traditions (Whether You Mean To Or Not)

Memory Lane

We are the makers of memories! What are your best memories from high school? What stories do you retell when you go to a reunion or get together with your old classmates? Arguably, most booster clubs aim to make great memories, so I think it’s crucial that we try to put a finger on what made our own experiences stick with us over time. Sometimes experiences are memorable because of random events--spontaneous downpours, chance encounters, or the serendipity that sparks both romantic and … [Read more...]

What Booster Officers Need to Know About Title IX

High School Girls on Track

As schools continue to face shrinking budgets, funding for extracurricular activities is often first on the chopping block. Administrators increasingly rely on the hard work of booster clubs to keep these programs open to the students who benefit from them so very much. But while generous, donations from booster clubs can cause problems for school officials who struggle to remain in compliance with Title IX, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions, especially … [Read more...]

11 Life Lessons of Theater

Shakespeare and goth man.

If “All the world's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players,” then there’s no better place to prepare for life than in the theater. I made this list of 11 theater lessons as a reminder of how much performance art can help the development of our young people. This post, like my 31 Life Lessons of Sports post, is designed to help booster club leaders articulate the value of extracurriculars. Sometimes we forget why we toil to support programs. Even when we do, it’s hard to articulate … [Read more...]

31 Life Lessons of Sports

BlueShirtBench1600

This summer I went to my college reunion and noted that 100% of the classmates I spoke with had participated in one or more extracurricular activities in high school. Every single person I spoke to credited those experiences with playing a role in their success, whether they were a magazine editor, an economist, or a stay-at-home home dad. Most of Boosterland’s readers will have a few reasons why they think extracurriculars are crucial for development. I’d like to compile them here as food for … [Read more...]

The Problem with Competition Between Booster Clubs

IdeaThief

In sports, competition brings mixed blessings. In fundraising it can bring disaster. Would another booster club “steal” your fundraiser? I've seen booster clubs encroach on existing fundraisers, and it is ugly. In one Northern California town, High School X produced a successful crab feed fundraiser in March. The next year, the booster club from High School Y did a crab feed in February. X and Y were in the same town, in the same school district. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing … [Read more...]

Is Competition Good?

3 Strikes, You're Out

What’s the point of competition in high school sports? What are the teachable moments, and what are the costs? Subjective as the possible answers may be, I've been thinking about the purpose of competition. My interest was sparked by this funny scene in Billy Crystal’s 2012 comedy hit, Parental Guidance. (Click on the image to launch the video). (In the video, Billy Crystal’s grandson is pitching at a little league game. The grandson strikes out the batter, but he’s not “out.” Upon … [Read more...]

Mission to Metrics 4: Promote Interest in Academics

Robot Paparazzi at the red carpet

Academic booster clubs seek to inspire more than high grades. The booster club I’m profiling in this post is more concerned with promoting interest among their participants than a perfect GPA. Grades aren't even mentioned in their mission statement. As with the other posts in the Mission to Metrics series, I show how booster club officers can develop appropriate metrics to measure the goals outlined in their mission statements. (See the intro post to metrics, and links to the other posts in … [Read more...]

Mission to Metrics 3: Beyond GPA & Winning (Sports)

Stopwatch in Hand

Athletic booster clubs value winning on the field and in the classroom. How can they show it? I sometimes question why extracurriculars, particularly athletic programs, feel the need to justify their existence based on participants’ grades. After all, sports teach us how to work with teammates, make friends, adjust strategy on the fly, lose gracefully, and win gracefully. Perhaps that’s why some schools are actually lowering GPA standards for athletes, so as not to alienate struggling … [Read more...]

4.5 Types of Booster Clubs

iStock_000018168588Medium_organization

When it comes to booster clubs, size matters. I don’t mean the amount of people it serves, or volunteers it has, but rather the size and type of “turf” that it covers. Is the booster club responsible for an entire district? An entire school? The answer tells me right away many of its strengths and challenges. That's because booster clubs usually find themselves covering one of the following 4.5 scopes of turf. (Yes, there is one that’s only half different than the other 4.)  And there are a few … [Read more...]