With an eye towards the program's inaugural 2009 football season, prospective Thunder Mountain High School Falcons worked up a sweat Saturday morning by slinging hashbrowns, sausage and flapjacks instead of the usual turf, mud and sweat of preseason training.
The Falcons players, boosters and coaches don't expect to forge an air-tight offensive line or shape a stout defense behind the steaming stovetops and piles of dishes at the now-weekly Falcons Nest Breakfasts in the TMHS commons. Rather, head coach Bill Byouer and company are hoping to build a community tradition and, perhaps, a fanbase - along with a small profit to dent next year's activity budget - by giving Juneau residents some grub for their charitable bucks.
"We want to show the community that we're community-based," Falcons head coach Bill Byouer said. "The community makes us or breaks us. We want tell them 'thank you' and we don't want to take their money for just anything ... If people are going to spend money on Saturday or Sunday for breakfast, we want them to come get a good meal and we're going to treat them good."
The service at the Falcons Nest meals starts right at the door where players bring guests to set tables and take orders for any of six traditional breakfast meals offered for $9 apiece on the group's menu. The hearty fare includes a mix of "traditional" breakfast items, according to TMHS principal Patti Bippus, ranging from eggs and hashbrowns to pancakes and bacon.
A group of boosters and coaches help players prepare the meals before the students, again, clear the tables and help with the dishes. Roughly 15 Falcons players work in the commons during the 8-11 a.m. breakfast, picking up revolving shifts on a voluntary basis.
"We have great parent support and the kids have been very energetic about being here and doing this," Byouer said. "(The players) are in the kitchen, serving food, cleaning tables and showing a lot of skills that they can use further on, whether in the food industry or in general public relations."
Thunder Mountain has allocated money for its upcoming inaugural sports season over the past two years, which, along with funds from the district and city, go a long way towards cutting down participation costs for athletic programs such as football, according to Bippus. The breakfasts and car washes that the school has started in past weeks are efforts aimed towards dropping those participation costs to zero for all students.
"There are still always some needs for booster money," Bippus said. "That's what this is all about. We haven't set a particular goal. We're just trying to have a pool of funds and activities that will continue to bring in money for the teams."
The football team, which stands at roughly 25 strong currently, has already started its real early season training as well, with strength, speed and agility training sessions running throughout the school week. The breakfast-hosting part of their regiment is expected to continue every Saturday morning throughout the summer until the squad opens up full practices in July, according to Byouer. After that, organizers are hoping that the breakfast's extended success will be carried on by additional Falcons sports programs.
Byouer said that the new football program has already received interest from student-athletes who have not played in recent years, and is also hoping "a lot" of other players will see the structure and coaching experience that the Falcons have to offer. The coach also strongly emphasized that there is "no recruiting going on," and hoped that the new program will simply open the field to more players.
The TMHS group is also planning on making takeout breakfasts available in the near future for those who cannot make it to the TMHS commons.
"To keep the price to play at zero, (money) needs to come from these group fundraising efforts, but we don't want to hammer the community with little things," Byouer said. "We obviously need to raise a lot of money here for teams coming and for us traveling ... We want the program to be recognized in the community as strong and make it stronger every day. We want people to realize that two schools can make it in Juneau."
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