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In Eden, N.C., 19 high school athletic programs from five counties partner with a local bank to create the area's largest sporting event. Now in its 11th year, the NewBridge Bank Invitational Football and Cheerleading Jamboree has raised more than $350,000 for public schools, with the company doing the lion's share of planning, organizing, fundraising, marketing, and publicizing the preseason celebration.


By Kenny Berkowitz


At Rockingham County High School in Eden, N.C., preseason starts with two nights of competition, 38 football teams, and hundreds of cheerleaders. It's a phenomenon called the NewBridge Bank Invitational Football and Cheerleading Jamboree, and over the past 11 years, the bank has used the celebrations to raise more than $350,000 for regional public schools.


"It's the crowned jewel, the largest single sporting event in our area," says RCHS Head Coach Lin Stadler, who has hosted the jamboree for the past eight years. "We have teams from 19 schools and five counties, and a well-organized, well-promoted event of this magnitude attracts a lot of people."


More than 7,000 people attended this year's jamboree, which included a cheerleading competition in Greensboro on Aug. 13 and football scrimmages at RCHS, West Davidson High School, and Tyro Middle School on Aug. 14. At RCHS's football field, 10 varsity teams played two half-field, hour-long scrimmages, while 10 j.v. teams competed on the school's adjacent practice field. With simultaneous contests at West Davidson and Tyro, there were four scrimmages going on at any one time, and by the end of the night, each school received $5,000 from the bank in gate receipts and program sales.


In one new twist, games were moved from Saturday afternoon to Friday night to avoid playing in the heat. In another, the cheerleading competition was scheduled as a separate event the night before the football jamboree. And in a third, the RCHS booster club ceded concession sales to the RCHS football boosters, who raised an additional $5,000 selling food and spiritwear.


For Stadler, who hopes to expand the event next year, the changes made a successful jamboree even more successful. "It's a financial windfall for all the participating programs, and it works so well for a lot of different reasons," says Stadler. "NewBridge Bank does a great job marketing the event throughout the year, starting in the spring with luncheons for coaches, athletic directors, and all the media outlets. They recruit volunteers to staff the gates, sell the programs, spread the word, and create the festive atmosphere that keeps people coming."


As the host coach, Stadler focuses on maintaining the playing fields over the summer. He enlists RCHS players for help moving equipment, oversees efforts by the two booster clubs to keep the event running smoothly, finds volunteer officials to cover the games, and works closely with his athletic director to prepare the facilities for eight visiting teams.


"There's a lot of time and effort leading up to it, especially in the last six weeks before the scrimmage, when we're making sure all our i's are dotted and our t's are crossed," says Stadler. "It's a lot of work, but it's well worth it. It's an opportunity for us to show off our campus and demonstrate our organizational ability--plus, it's a financial windfall for all the schools involved.


"Taking part in this event, and doing something to help football programs around the area feels really good," he continues. "I'm grateful to the bank for supporting the jamboree for all these years, and I hope we'll be able to host it for years to come."


Kenny Berkowitz is an Assistant Editor at MomentumMedia Sports Publishing. He can be reached at: kb@momentummedia.com.



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