A re-energized Booster Club is helping North Brunswick High School athletics reach new heights.
There’s a sense of excitement in the air and through the halls of North Brunswick High School these days. Thanks to the school’s newly energized and modernized Athletic Booster Club, student athletes, coaches, parents and teachers are joining forces to heighten school spirit and celebrate past and present achievements. Add to that growing support from the local community, and school pride has never been stronger in the home of the Scorpions.
When Farm Bureau Insurance agent Ryan Huffman accepted the role of Booster Club president in early 2018, he set out to combine his marketing skills with his knowledge of North Brunswick High to make great change. Having previously served as a history teacher, coach and the school’s former assistant athletic director, Huffman felt a strong connection to the school and athletic director Randy Fennell. So when Fennell asked if he would be interested in helping take the Booster Club in a different direction, Huffman couldn’t say no.
Now with a brand-new board of directors, the addition of multiple fundraising programs, a membership drive and a fresh marketing campaign, he has since helped raise the club’s account balance from less than $6,000 to more than $100,000 gross receipts in the first two years.
“Schools need a lot of money to operate, and of course athletic budgets don’t get nearly enough money to help provide all that’s needed,” Huffman says. “I knew the Booster Club needed to modernize, so we got a new email address, new website, started to take credit cards and worked on a marketing campaign with the goal being to start highlighting all the positive things the Booster Club can do for the school.”
Huffman takes great pride in the Booster Club’s newest initiative, a hall of fame honoring standout student-athletes from North Brunswick High’s rich athletic history. Since 1972, the school’s athletes have earned a total of 15 State Championships and more than 40 Individual State Championships, the most earned by any other high school in Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover counties during that timeframe. Of those athletes, many have continued on to compete at the collegiate level, and 11 have become professional athletes.
This year’s first class of Hall of Fame inductees include the likes of retired NBA players Chucky Brown, Jr. and Sam Pellom, Sr., previous Lady Scorpions softball player and coach Brittney Lehrschall, former MLB player Stephen Mintz, international professional basketball player Ashley Pellom and Nelson Best, the first principal at North Brunswick High School and former Director of Athletics for Brunswick County Schools.
“It’s my goal that this Hall of Fame serves as a monument to these past successes and helps inspire current and future students and community members to continue building the rich legacy of Scorpion Athletics,” Huffman says.
Another main focus for the Booster Club has been improving and updating the athletic facilities. After the school’s weight room suffered serious damage during Hurricane Florence, a generous donation from the Carolina Panthers coupled with funds raised by the Booster Club enabled the brand-new, 3,000-square-foot weight room to be filled with updated equipment.
Other improvements include the purchase of new volleyball standards, a new pitching machine, thousands of dollars in uniforms, athletic department t-shirts for all student athletes and an increase in available scholarships. The club has also recently reorganized the school’s trophy case and initiated a poster program, in which photos of former outstanding all-state or state champion athletes are displayed on large posters and hung along the ceilings throughout the school.
“So far we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community,” Huffman says. ”We really want to get people to feel like they’re a part of something bigger.”
Huffman attributes much of the Booster Club’s recent revitalization to the support of local businesses and the community. Fundraising efforts include a membership drive, reverse raffles, a summer golf tournament, a discount card program and banner advertising. Local businesses such as Farm Bureau Insurance, Carolina Shores Carwash, College Hunks Hauling Junk, Cape Fear Custom RV, First Bank, Leland Church, Ace Hardware, Mulch and More and many others have joined the club’s efforts to provide more for North Brunswick High School student athletes.
“Most people retain ties to the communities they grew up in,” Huffman says. “We’re trying to give these kids the resources they need to get a good education, have a little fun doing it, hopefully learn something through athletics, and then come back as productive citizens and get back involved.”
In his efforts to modernize and rebrand the Booster Club, Huffman believes community outreach has made all the difference. He hopes to keep the momentum going and continue to develop school pride in all athletic accomplishments, past and present.
“In a little over a year and a half, we’ve raised more than $100,000 and spent quite a bit of it updating the facilities and resources for student-athletes and celebrating the past,” Huffman says. “North Brunswick High School has been such an important hub and huge source of pride for the community for so many decades that people are eager and excited to help further the Scorpion legacy. We’re doing a lot for these kids, and that’s really what it’s all about.”