By Sue Botos
As another fall sports season approaches, Rocky River fans are looking forward to cheering on the Pirates, decked out in maroon and white, maybe sipping on hot chocolate on a cold football Friday night. However, there is another team that, while it may not score touchdowns, is a key player in keeping fans in the spirit, and student athletes on the field.
Although most closely associated with high school sports, the Rocky River Student Activities Boosters raises funds for all out-of-school activities at both the high school and middle school, ranging from soccer to marching band to the chess club, without the need for district funds or a pay-to-play program. Boosters President Mike Pease, entering his second year of heading the organization, noted that the group also pays for all officials at every high school and middle school game. “Most people don’t realize we support the middle school as well,” he commented.
While Pease couldn’t recall how far back the organization’s roots go, the deep sense of tradition attracted him and his wife, Kim, to the group. Originally from New York, they found the Boosters to be a good way to make friends, and Kim began working at the indoor and outdoor concession stands. “My wife has been running the concessions stand for years, and when Diana Leitch stepped down as president, I volunteered,” Pease stated. A seasoned volunteer, Pease has coached many activities for his children, three of whom are Rocky River High School graduates, with the fourth starting the junior year.
While camaraderie is strong among the Pirate Boosters, Pease emphasized that fundraising is the group’s purpose, accomplished through concessions, “Spiritwear” sales, membership and advertising dollars. Pease said the sales of snacks, burgers, hot dogs and other treats at games accounts for one-third of the Boosters’ fundraising, which amounted to $68,000 last year. Pease said the group hopes to present the school board with a check for $100,000 this year, and added that all proceeds go directly to the schools.
The popular “Spiritwear” sweatshirts, T-shirts and other Pirates gear are sold throughout the year, either online (www.rrcs.org), at the high school on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., at all home varsity football games and at the city recreation center the first two Saturdays in December.
But none of this is possible without volunteers and, as is often the case, a core group shoulders most of the work. “There’s a small group of us that does about 90 percent of the work,” he stated, adding that anyone can join the Boosters, not just parents of students. “We are looking for not only current parents of RRMS and RRHS students, but also former and future parents. We would also like to attract back former students to participate,” Pease said.
There are different levels of membership available, ranging from “patron” to “corporate.” Many of the levels include “Pirate Passes,” which entitle the holder to admission to all middle school and high school sporting events, with the exception of ice hockey games and playoffs. Members say it’s not unusual for grandparents, living in other cities, to join Boosters in support of their grandchildren.
Pease said he hasn’t thought much about his legacy, but he knows that friendships will continue long after he steps down as president. “We’ve made so many friends through Boosters. There are guys in their 60s and 70s still involved.”
“There’s still a lot to be done before the first football game (on Aug. 24),” noted Pease, who said being a booster involves “a lot of hard work and dedication,” but the involvement and the opportunity to meet fellow Pirate supporters in priceless. “It’s fun. Whether you’re flipping burgers or selling 50-50 raffle tickets, it’s a great way to meet people in the community, and that’s what a school system is all about.”
The Rocky River Student Activities Boosters meet the last Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. Locations will be available at www.rrboosters.com, which is currently under construction. Go to www.rrcs.org for membership information.