Much like the expression “behind every great man is a great woman,” comes the idea that behind a winning football team are the extraordinary women who support them, in this case the Woodland Hills Boosters Association.
During a visit with Coach George Novak at football camp this summer, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of minutes in the concession stand meeting with the women “behind the scenes.” I was anxiously greeted and taken in by Candace Mays, who explained to me that due to the lack of funding, “Coach” (as these women adoringly refer to Novak) had decided to hold camp at the Wolvarena. This meant that the booster parents, most of whom work full-time jobs, were responsible for feeding these hungry, growing young men three meals a day for five days.
I was floored. As dozens of hot dogs rolled off of the cooker by the minute, I learned just how unique and special this group truly is. I told the ladies before I left that I was going to compose a story about their efforts, and the love and support that they provide for the Woodland Hills football program.
A couple of weeks later, I went back to that concession stand. I carefully observed as the weekly booster meeting took place, and I could not help but to notice the chemistry and camaraderie between these women: they are a family. As their meeting concluded, I found myself at a loss for words. There was no way that I could sum up the emotions, energies, and accomplishments that these women put forth day in and day out for this organization and for the community.
As a result, I asked Cathy Turner, president, and the others to email me a short blurb about what being a part of the boosters association means to them. Short and sweet, so that I could merge them together and create a story. The emails rolled in, and again I was speechless. After many hours staring at a blank Word document, I decided that the only way to do these remarkable women any justice was to let the readers see exactly what ended up in my inbox.
Without further ado, I give to you the Woodland Hills Football Boosters Association:
Cathy Turner, President
“Every time I sat down to type I didn’t know where to begin or where I would end. This is a lifestyle for my children and me. We have been heavily involved for the past 14 years! I LOVE IT! I know you get all the basics but what I feel we do extra is get to know our players and cheerleaders on a one to one basis.
My son hosted a pre-camp campfire and had the whole team over for s’mores. He also hosts Sunday study sessions. I love to cook for the cheerleaders and players. Kielh (our neighbor) is a varsity cheerleader. They say it takes a village and being a divorced mother of four, I believe it does! My oldest son Jullian is a sophomore at University of New Hampshire. He is on a full football scholarship with some academic scholarship that he earned. My second oldest son is senior, Jawan Turner #53. He is following in his older brothers footsteps.
The success my sons have has given me the drive to help motivate the boys any way I can. I always announce midterms and the last day of the grading period! I have also decided to "adopt" (just in my heart) two boys a year. I get permission from their parents and coach Novak and we (boosters) wave their $50 camp fee and I just check on their grades and behavior and most importantly I talk to them every chance I get.
They repay us by working one hour on Thursday before a home game!! Beautiful, outgoing, overwhelmed, selfless, talented, energetic, reliable. This is what my boosters mean to me! Thank you so much for coming down this summer! We are really a huge family at Woody High and you really have to see it to believe it!!!”
Tondalaya Hampton, Secretary
I am the secretary for the boosters and have been so for the last three years. As Cathy was telling you, when I first joined the boosters I was in graduate school and I have five children, two of whom are autistic, and have a lot of challenges of their own. It is very challenging at times to remain a part of the boosters but I absolutely love being a part of the organization.
I have had great support from all of the boosters; we are like a family. Every year the group as a whole fund raises a lot on our own so that we can be in the position to help other children that are less fortunate or simply don't get the support at home that will allow them to participate fully and be able to attend the end of the year banquet and receive gifts.
We are also doing some great things this year by teaming up with Wal-Mart to stuff a bus. We have also joined the campaign to 'Black out child abuse.' These are all reasons I like being a part of the boosters because everyone has a caring heart and we want our boys to have the best year possible.”
Candace Mays, Event/Donations Coordinator
My story is a little different then most of the other boosters. I do not have a son on the football team. The football player I mostly support is Jordan Barnes, #75. His father George and I have been together for six years. Jordan's older brother, George, is a 2010 graduate of WH, and he also played football. They are wonderful young men and I love them both very much!
Our 12-year-old daughter Rachel also loves watching them play! Being a booster, at least in my family, is what we do. George works in the kitchen, and during some home games he helps with the 50/50 or works on the fryer. Even my 64-year-old mother, Carla Crill, helps out—she sews things for us to sell like through pillows, hot pads, pillowcases, do rags.
When I started with the boosters I had no idea what it involved. The ladies welcomed me with open arms even though I'm not his mother. (Jordan has a wonderful mom.) I had no idea in the beginning that I was going to make lifelong friends.
Being a Woodland Hills Football Booster is more than just making french fries on a Friday night game. We do fundraising all year long. We drive boys to practice. We feed them. We make sure they are keeping up with their grades. I guess you can say we adopt and look out for all the boys on the team. We all work well together! We do what we do for the boys! Trust me there are times when one of us is having a bad day. But we are able to call or text one another. We pray for each other, we love each other. Most of all we believe in our Wolverines and we love our Wolverines!!!”
Michelle Smith, Treasurer
“I have been involved with Woodland Hills football for 15 years. I enjoy working with the boosters; we are like a family. All of my children came up through the organization. My oldest daughter Ashley, 26, was a midget cheerleader then she was in the high school band. My daughter Myia, 21, was a midget cheerleader then a high school cheerleader—now she is the assistant cheerleading coach at the high school. My son Michael #11 is a junior this year and plays on the varsity team. My husband Michael Sr. coached midget football for five years also. We, as a family, enjoy giving our time to help out. What motivates me every week are the kids, just not mine but all the ones I come in contact with everyday.”
Rosemary Christie, Assistant Secretary
“My sister Rita, who is the merchandise coordinator, got me involved with boosters. Her son Anthony is #29 on the varsity team. I love working with them because it helps the boys who play their heart out every week. This is my first year on the boosters, so I am still learning the ropes but I love every minute. Cathy Turner and the other ladies work so hard for the football organization and I respect them all so much, I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful and fulfilling organization.”