April Dickerson and Mark Cullip have resurrected the Varsity Club at Joppatowne High School. Both were involved in it when they were at Joppatwone High as students. In fact, Cullip pointed out a sign that his club helped make that still hangs on the wall.
Back when Cullip and Dickerson were involved, Varsity Club was only open to athletes who had earned their varsity letter. Upon resurrection, there is no such restriction. The thought behind that is it’s better to reel the students in right from the start, as freshman. This is a way of promoting school spirit and pride for the athletes. Dickerson said it’s been anywhere from 12-15 years since the Varsity Club has been around.
As the President of the Joppatowne High School Booster Club, Dickerson has been quite thrilled with the enthusiasm from students since the beginning. “I thought maybe we’d get 30 kids…[93 showed up] It was astounding!” she remarked with delight.
“They [the students] are anxious to volunteer, they are happy to volunteer! The first time we asked for help with concessions we had nine kids show up. They were all in that concessions stand. And then we said okay, that’s too many, we are tripping on each other, “ she said laughing. The concession stand isn’t that big.
That the coaches were on board with the mission helped bolster attendance. But even Cullip noted that “it’s something new and once they get used to it, it will be a part of their culture.” Perhaps it is just a matter of time before it catches fire then?
As a midfielder in field hockey, Ashley Stovall is in 10th grade and wanted to be a part of the Varsity Club. “Its’ really helpful. Before everyone was kind of disorganized and had their own sport but now everyone can come together and work together. It’s uniting our school.”
Why did senior Jules Forney, a member of the undefeated Mariners football squad and track star, decide to join?
“To represent the school and make things better, to promote and get more money for everything the school needs this year.” He said. ““I think it’s going to make a big difference with all the finances and all the teams we have, like, getting new jerseys and new equipment for the teams in each sport.”
Caira Stovall is also a field hockey player and in 10th grade. “Most people walk around school and see things that need to be fixed. Well, now they can actually be a part of it,” she said.
Students are not just making posters. They are assessing the school grounds and working to make things better. If something needs a coat of paint, it’ll only take a bucket of paint to make the difference, Dickerson said during the last meeting which took place Wednesday, October 1 immediately after school.
Joppatowne’s Varsity Club has only had three meetings and much has been accomplished. Having formed five committees, Pep R ally, Homecoming Parade, Car Wash, Slingshot (reportedly not as easy as it looks) and Grounds Committee, the student athletes signed up and then got to work. It is a win-win situation for the students and the school.
Even though Jules said it is too soon to tell if there’s been any noticeable change on the football field from the crowd, (remember the Mariners are perennial gamers with the pigskin) these Varsity Club students and athletes have plenty to look forward to. Manning up, on and off the field, is one sure-fire way to take their pride to a whole new level. Mariner style.