Forester Football Gridiron Gang
The official website of the Lake Forest College Football Parent Group
Dear Forester Football Families,
We are all so fortunate that our son’s have the opportunity to attend an outstanding college and to be a part of The Lake Forest College Football Family, aka “Gridiron Gang.” At the start of 2012 season I was introduced as the “Chief’”, by Coach Catanzaro, because I had recently retired from a long career as a Fire Chief. Anyone around during the tenure of “The Chief,” during the 2012 and 2013 Gridiron Gang seasons. For those new to the college and the football program, during that time I stepped up to facilitate and motivate every family to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of something you will always remember.
Take it from me. The four years supporting my son and the team flew by at supersonic speed. His last season ended with a 2013 Championship! My son came to Lake Forest College for a great educational opportunity and to play college football. Gina and I attended our first game, when Coach Catanzaro started his head coaching career here in 2010. The attendance in the stands was sparse. There were a couple of students, some parents and a frustrated team on the field playing for hardly anyone. It was obvious to me in the words of the The Big Lebowski, "This will not stand." These men were playing their hearts out and they were not getting the fan support they need playing to an empty house.
What I did understand is the nature of Lake Forest College as world class institution. In my old career it was all about recognizing problems and implementing solutions instantly:
1.Over half the players on this team are from outside Illinois and the metro Chicago area.
2.Additionally there is no campus food service for these boys basically all Saturday. After long day they were on their own.
3.You initially have a very small group of local supporters that may have the ability to attend the game
4.Many families may not be informed about attending and may not understand the importance that their attendance makes.
5.Families that wanted share in their son’s college experience and that they needed a way to make that happen.
I thought I could make a difference by using all my years of motivating firefighters to breach burning buildings, along with my firehouse cooking experience, for something fun for a change. With a week to plan for a football game, instead of seconds how, hard could it be motivate parents throw a party and fans to come to a game? It’s a lot of hard work that culminated in seeing excitement for the team with family and fans in the stands and that motivates the players on the field. The end result is families have the reason be with or talk to your son on a weekly basis and support him in his success and failures on and off the field. These Saturday’s are the opportunity for families to share and learn from each other, talk to players, coaches and their sons in a relaxed fun social setting.
For the Lake Forest College Football Family, these are not just games; they are weekly celebrations of what the college experience should be about. Being involved is supporting our men in their career aspirations with an outstanding educational opportunity and standing behind them in the stands Saturdays when they are playing football win or lose. It’s important for all of us that have the ability to attend these games, home and away, to be there for the families that cannot. Those families that cannot be there can also contribute in some way to their son’s game day and college experience.
WE don’t have tailgate parties; we have day long festivals that everyone is included in. That’s what this involved into over my tenure. It continued with Marty & Avis Browne and new families stepping up to carry the tradition forward. Game day starts at about 10 o’clock in the morning, we get tents set up, watch the team parade through campus to the club house with the bag piper leading the way at 10:30 AM. We prepare the post game meal for the team and entertain our friends with pre-game individual tailgate parties and then we go to the game. After the game we set out the food service for the team to eat and keep the festival is going until the campus security kicks us out of the parking lot around 5:30 PM.
We went from low attendance at games and everyone going their own way, to “Theme Parties” ending at sundown, families flying and driving in for home games from across the USA, Canada & Europe and charting a coach bus to an away game. Our success is contagious with the students and other sports. It’s like the Harley-Davidson Home Coming in Milwaukee every weekend. WE went from an empty parking lot and vacant stands, to the parking lot jammed with tents and the stands full of parents and students in three short years. This is an indication of what’s in your future and I still am a part of it. Gina and I still return every Saturday to support the players for those who cannot. I have no doubt, WE can give these men better than a D-I experience. It all starts with making sure The Gridiron Gang has your correct email address. Then get ready to join in the experience.
At this moment, it is more important than ever to be involved in your son’s college education and intercollegiate football experience. Follow his academics with the same enthusiasm as his football career and nothing will stop his future success. His football career culminates at his gradation with a Bachelors Degree of Lake Forest College. See you in the parking lot Saturday’s at 10 o’clock. Go Foresters!
Ed “Chief” & Gina Dobernig
LFC Football Family - 2014