Thomson High School football backers heard about team practice and philosophy Monday night at the Pigskin Preview at The Thomson Depot.
First-year head football coach and athletic director Milan Turner told an audience of about 65 about improvements to be made to the Bulldogs' football stadium, The Brickyard.
Bids will be opened in about two weeks, he said. Phase 1 will include the scoreboard, the visitor stands, end zone stands and concession and restroom areas. Phase 2, which will begin after the football season, will include the home stands.
Turner said the new scoreboard will have the latest sound system. A video section can show game highlights from the previous week, or replays. The feature also could show photos of students during the graduation ceremony, he said. He said highlights of away games would be helpful "for folks who can't go out of town."
Most of the advertising sections have been bought, he said. Advertising also could be incorporated into the video area.
"We had a great year at Thomson High School," Turner said. He said the program will expand next year, adding competitive cheerleading.
He said the next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax will pay to rebuild the track, so track teams can have home meets. The money also will refinish the soccer facilities.
Turner said the spring football scrimmages went well. The week of practice was sandwiched between two Saturday scrimmages. "I think our kids did a lot of good things, especially from the first scrimmage to the second," he said.
The summer schedule is now in progress, he said. Players turn out Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for three hours of weightlifting and practice.
Several camps are available, and 7-on-7 drills are scheduled Tuesdays in June at Greenbrier High School. Each drill ends with devotion. The final scrimmage will feature a speaker from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he said.
Turner explained that the 7-on-7 scrimmages are basically the offense and defense players but without the linemen. Games last about 25 minutes, he said.
On June 30, Thomson will take part in a 7-on-7 in Jefferson County, he said. "You'll see them come up against some really good competition," he said.
The program will continue to insist on academic achievement before athletics, Turner said. Students who miss their academic goals face consequences, he said. "Kids are doing tire lifts, and I can tell you they don't like those. They don't like them at all," Turner said.
"We want to be preparing them for the real thing, to go out and get a job and do the right thing."
He said student athletes must earn good grades, maintain a positive attitude and work hard. Points are given for good performance, and groups are eligible for gifts such as sneakers each quarter. He said the peer pressure helps influence behavior "instead of it just being from the coaches all the time."
Turner several times explained that his personal belief in God is the foundation of the football and athletic programs he administers. He distributes Bibles given by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
He also said persevering athletes get their chance at leadership positions. All seniors, regardless of their playing time, are part of the LG -- the leadership group.
The booster party was brought together with the help of Mike Carrington, the acting executive director of the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce.
Carrington said the business community is behind the athletic program 100 percent. "If you need anything, just ask us," he said.
Boosters president Richard Downs told the audience, "The sole purpose of the booster club is to raise money to support the athletics." Gifts this past year included new golf bags and new soccer uniforms. The boosters funded trips to camp for several athletes. He said some major gifts have cut into the reserve funds. A July 9 fundraising golf tournament is planned, he said.
Downs said the athletic program does not receive tax money, but is funded through ticket sales.
The boosters have received their 501(c) tax-exempt certification from the Internal Revenue Service, he said. He explained that designation is important to contributors. He said the booster club welcomes "some young blood" to take on leadership roles.
The boosters presented two scholarships this school year. The $2,000 McCorkle-Smith Scholarship was presented to Nic Wood. The $1,000 Mary Knox McNeil scholarship was presented to Jacoby Crawford.
Downs said the boosters hope to hear from Turner the third Monday of each month.
"Hopefully this will be just one of many opportunities to get together and share about all the athletic programs at the high school," Turner said of the event.
Neal's Bar-B-Que of Thomson catered the dinner.