High school football isn’t so much a sport as it is a religion in the deep south. In Georgia, in Alabama, in Florida and in Texas, especially in Texas, there’s a blurry, often indistinguishable line between passion and obsession.
That same obsession, er, passion, can be found in pockets of the Arizona desert. Tucked deep into the northern Phoenix suburbs, just off West Speckled Gecko Drive in Peoria, is Liberty High School.
A football hotbed, to be sure.
“In our community we have made our football a big deal,” said Alicia Svoboda, who has served in multiple roles for the football program’s booster club, most recently as president and webmaster. “We try to make it like Texas high school football.”
Indeed, the Liberty Lions are a winning team (they went 11-2 last season) with a rabid fan base and groundswell of community support. How much community support? Check out the Sponsors page on the booster club's website, and you’ll see more than 40 local businesses listed. Those businesses contribute money, merchandise and more – providing the bulk of the booster club’s $80,000 to $100,000 annual operating budget.
“Our community is really good, and we definitely support each other,” said Cindi Bordson, who has served as the booster club’s secretary, treasurer and vice president. Bordson also has been responsible for securing sponsorships, a job she said requires a healthy supply of shoe leather as much as anything.
“Really, it’s all about pounding the pavement,” Bordson said. “We developed a committee, and we assigned business corners, saying, ‘You are responsible for this, You are responsible for this.’ ”
Support Your Local Team
For Liberty’s sponsorship committee members, asking businesses for support is literally part of the daily routine. Taking a kid to the orthodontist becomes an opportunity to reach out to potential sponsor.
The booster club’s Sponsors page also has links to the Lions’ Sponsorship Form and Sponsorship Letter. The Sponsorship Form lists the inventory available and itemizes the costs of a la carte items and package (Bronze, Silver and Gold) deals. Prices range from $50 for commercials aired during games and $75 for parking passes to home games up to $1,450 for two sideline tripod banners on the field.
The sponsorship letter talks about the dedication to building a program built on integrity, teamwork, positive influence and a sense of community. It also promises the ability to build a sponsor package to meet, “Your unique business needs.”
Bordson said flexibility in creating packages has been a big part of the booster club’s fundraising success. If a business owner was interested in, say, being a golf tournament sponsor and having a tripod sign on the track during games, Bordson said a custom price package would be created to accommodate the request.
“I think a lot of it is getting creative with things that don’t cost the club money,” Bordson said. “We announce all of our sponsors at every home game. There are a lot of different ways we can offer recognition for their donation.”
OFFERING FRESH IDEAS TO SPONSORS
Bordson, Svoboda and their colleagues on the booster club have been creative in looking for opportunities to raise money. They’ve tried “Touchdown T-Shirts” adorned with businesses’ logos (the T-shirts are thrown into the crowd after touchdowns). They’ve painted sponsors’ logos in the end zones. They host a Bleachers & Bling Ladies Night that costs $20 per person and offers the ability to buy custom Lions gear, football trivia and a crash course in football fundamentals.
Liberty Lions Football Sponsorship Letter, Form
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They offer advertising space in the Lions’ program, and recognize those businesses with banners on the home field’s fence. Sponsors are categorized on the Liberty Lions website based on their contributions. Gold Sponsors are at the top, followed by Silver, Bronze. Golf Tournament and Team Meal sponsors are also listed separately. “A big thing for us is, as soon as you get a sponsor, is to get them on the website,” Bordson said. “Get them up there as soon as possible.”
Because the booster club sells separate corporate, golf and team meal sponsorships, Bordson said communication as to who is selling what is crucial. So is a large group willing to approach local businesses with the different options.
“It takes a village for sure,” she said.
Bordson said it’s important to never say no to a business willing to offer a donation.
“Whatever they can give, we are going to put it to good use,” she said. “If they can only give us hamburgers, we’ll go find the potato chips.”
Finally, Bordson says, the little touches matter. All sponsors receive a personalized Thank You letter at the end of the season. The letter summarizes the varsity team’s season (the Lions made it to the state semifinals last fall) and serves as a way to touch base ahead of the next season.