There’s no history, no famous alumni, no second-generation students, no familiar fight song, no memorable victories, no rivals and not even a logo on the football field.
It would be easy for students, teachers and parents at the soon-to-open Apex Friendship High School to coast for the first few years and let school spirit develop however it may. But they’re not taking the easy route.
A month before the first day of school, many students have already been on campus almost daily – the band learning the fight song, the cheerleaders practicing their moves and the football players studying the playbook and getting used to one another.
It’s all in preparation for a game at 8 a.m. this Saturday – the first-ever Patriots game, an intra-squad scrimmage.
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Parents with the athletics booster club say they’re hoping the whole school community comes out for the game.
“We’re trying to make this an experience,” said Terry “T.O.” Oliver, who helped found the booster club. “We want it to be an event, not that you just walk in, watch the game and leave. We want you to meet your neighbors and people who live in other places.”
Cheryl Joyce, another boosters volunteer, has been working overtime to try to make that happen. She said she has reached out to every neighborhood and middle school that feeds into Apex Friendship – more than 5,000 families in total, she estimates.
“It’s a great way to get your guys on a field in front of a crowd, from the playing perspective,” she said of the game this Saturday. “But from a community perspective, it’s also a great way to get people out.
“We don’t just want the football parents,” Joyce added. “We want this to be bigger than that.”
Picking up the bill
Erik Ross, the president of the boosters, said that while tickets are free, the game will also be their first big fundraising event.
Other schools in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference have annual athletic budgets in the $100,000 to $150,000 range, he said.
Wake County didn’t give the boosters much to get started, Ross said, so donations are crucial. The group is hoping to raise $400,000 from parents and businesses this year, for annual expenses as well as one-time purchases.
The baseball and softball fields, for example, don’t have dugouts, bleachers, bathrooms or irrigation systems to keep the outfield grass alive. The tennis courts have no nets or net posts. The football field needs a paint job and a play clock. And on the school’s four outdoor basketball hoops, three of the nets are already ripped.
To raise money, the boosters will be selling engraved bricks that will be placed on the walk up to the ticket booth. There are also shirts, sweat pants, hats and other clothing with the Patriots logo on it.
People can also preorder Bojangles’ food to pick up at the game, with proceeds going in part to the boosters.
For more information, see the Apex Friendship Patriots Athletic Club page on Facebook or visit afhspatriots.com.
The boosters are also selling memberships for between one and four years that will let people get into every non-playoff game for free. They range from $200 for one year to $700 for four years.
They’re also on the hunt for corporate sponsors, in the range of $200 to $3,000.
Ross said that since enrollment is small to start out – only ninth and 10th grades – basically anyone who wants to play a sport will be able to. And he wants to make sure the boosters have the means to give those kids a memorable experience from the very beginning.
“It’s an opportunity for the kids that might not have lettered as a freshman at Apex High or somewhere else to come here and play,” he said.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran
Want to go?
What: Inaugural kick-off Apex Friendship High School football game
When: 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8
Where: Apex Friendship High School, 7801 Humie Olive Road