While there are many dedicated staff members that help organize games for the Waterloo Warriors football team, many outside the university also serve a pivotal role. Parent booster clubs are informal networks of parents who volunteer to support student athletes through their university life, helping them balance sports with academic life, to adjust to living in the KW region, and to integrate into college-level competitive sports.
Tyson Hergott, a fifth year student and player for the football team, explained how impactful parent support groups are for players. Tyson is a local student whose parents are also involved in the group. Tyson expressed how he has “been close with Julie and Gerry who generously volunteer their time to organize the group.” In regards to parent supporters, Tyson mentioned that “their support on game day has always been felt by myself and the rest of the team.”
The UW football team’s most prominent group of parent supporters operates as the Waterloo Warriors Football Parent Group on Facebook, led by Julie Britton Fraiser. Through the use of social media, parents are able to communicate with each other regarding events, links to game information, logistical hurdles like parking for a game, as well as provide updates and advice both on the field and on campus.
This is Frasier’s second year leading the Waterloo Warriors Football Parent Group, along with running tailgate events with her husband for the team. The events serve as a way for the team and parents to come together prior to home games. In addition, potential recruits come by the tailgate events during their tour, where parents “provide a welcoming atmosphere and have light interaction with [them],” she said.
Frasier also emphasized the importance of their group as a resource for answering questions. If other parents want to know how to get tickets for away games, or are looking for information on university life or how to best support their child on the team, they can ask experienced parents in the group.
In times of need, these groups come together to support student athletes. Parents were able to generate awareness through social media in helping students recuperate losses from a house fire. In the early morning of Aug. 14, 2022, five football players for the Waterloo Warriors team were displaced by a house fire that occurred while they were away at practice, where they lost many of their belongings. In response, Jen Schmidt and Tricia Fulcher created a GoFundMe page that was promoted across social media, including the Facebook groups of these parent booster clubs. The GoFundMe raised $5,370 to help the players recover some of their losses.
Megan Muir, the communications and game day coordinator for UW Athletics, also noted the importance of these groups in supporting athletes that are far away from home. Parents of athletes who are not from the KW region may find it more difficult to support their children directly as they are unfamiliar with the area. As a result, Muir says that these parent groups “give them local community and other athletes’ parents that can be a support system for them in the KW region.”
While there is much pressure for players to perform well on the football field, there are also many other challenges they face as they take on the responsibilities of university life. Parent booster clubs are just one way that parents can come together to ease the pressures of and help each other navigate the student-athlete life.