Football team program attracts future participants
They pass, punt, kick and watch the Eudora High School varsity football team sprint onto the field up close before the game.
The Bleacher Creatures, a club started last year by EHS Coach Aaron Barnett and Eudora Middle School Coach Kevin Wade, represent the future of Eudora High School football players, cheerleaders and band members. The organization is currently operated by the EHS football team and Eudora Parks and Recreation with Barnett and Wade serving as its coordinators.
"We are building tradition and we are at the early stage of success in Eudora," Wade said. "It is fun to see the kids get involved. They get to see what it's like in high school."
One hundred students in the first through sixth grades enjoy football and learn about school spirit at all five EHS home football games. For $25, the Bleacher Creatures may attend all EHS home games, enjoy special seating in the south endzone, receive a maroon Bleacher Creature T-shirt and participate in the football clinics and league each Saturday in September.
Barnett and Wade hold four 45- minute football clinics on those days followed by a 45-minute game of flag football from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Eudora High School practice fields.
The program has received stellar reviews from its participants thus far.
First-grader Nathaniel Bradley, 6, said that participating in the Bleacher Creatures is something that he enjoys and hopes to play for the Cardinals in the future.
"I like the football clinics," Bradley said. "Coming to the games is fun because I like Eudora High School. I am going to play for EHS someday."
Eudora West fifth grader Jacob Wesley, 10, heard about the Bleacher Creatures and joined the group so he could get close to the intense action of the EHS football games.
"We get to sit in the endzone and run across the field," Wesley said. "This was my first time coming to the game. It sounded like lots of fun."
Fellow fifth-grader Baylee Schmeck, 10, said she thinks that the Bleacher Creatures are an important piece of the entire community rallying around the Cardinals each fall.
"I like getting into all the games free," Schmeck said. "The football team and the games represent the town."
Wade said he is expecting over 100 Bleacher Creatures for the second year of the program. During one of the sessions, Bleacher Creatures will compete in the NFL- sponsored Punt, Pass and Kick competition.
"The kids that were in the Bleacher Creatures last year are back and we are expecting more," Wade said.