Strawberry Crest football took to Fishhawk Sporting Clays on Saturday for their first annual fundraiser.
Strawberry Crest football headed to Fishhawk Sporting Clays this past Saturday where a grand sum of 65 participants took part in the team’s first annual clay shoot fundraiser.
“We had some alumni out there, we had community people, some of our sponsors were out there, we had parents, we had current players and then we had just some random people from the community that heard about the event and wanted to come out there,” Head coach Phillip Prior said. “It was great. Everybody was just like, ‘Man, this was just such a good idea, we had such a great time.’ That event is just going to continue to grow for us and it’s going to be a huge fundraiser for us to help accomplish some goals, both short-term and long-term. It was a great time.”
Like many parts of Prior’s young tenure with the team, the plans for the clay shoot fundraiser are far from a newly-hatched idea, but it was forcibly put on pause as the COVID-19 pandemic made the event an impossibility last year. Prior was hired mere weeks before the beginning of the 2019 football season, and with a pandemic-altered 2020, this year proves his first full, relatively normal offseason in which he can organize spring football, regular summer workouts and off-the-field events despite already heading into his third season as head coach.
The fundraiser is two-fold for Strawberry Crest football, not just raising money from the event itself but also working to rally sponsors from the community to help support the team year-round in the form of banner ads or tangible sponsorships that can be tied into their participation at the clay shoot.
Hillsborough County will provide a team’s necessities but fundraisers assist in providing a number of other immediate assets to a team, including pre-game meals, equipment and game-day film systems. But the clay shoot is more than just a way of raising money for the program in Prior’s eyes, as he sees these off-the-field events as a way to build a culture around the program.
“What I’ve tried to do, and it’s been a little tricky, is that I want it to be a way to reach out to alumni,” Prior said. “This year it’s still a work in progress, being able to do that, but I’m hoping that if we can continue this event year in and year out, this will be a great way to get guys that used to play in our football program back and involved in our football program, even if it’s just in a small way.”
With a football team that charged onto the field for the first time just 12 short years ago as the school opened its doors in 2009, Strawberry Crest naturally falls short of the history and alumni base that older nearby schools like Durant and Plant City High School possess. And with six different head coaches in those 12 years, continuity and familiarity itself becomes a potential disconnect for former players. But Prior hopes that these events can bridge that gap and help bolster the pride of their local community and those that have walked Strawberry Crest’s halls in the past