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Largo Packers booster club's concession stand is labor of love

Lori McFarland, left, and Beth Snyder check out at Sam’s Club in Clearwater with $916.91 of food.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times

Lori McFarland, left, and Beth Snyder check out at Sam’s Club in Clearwater with $916.91 of food.

Largo High School football has been a part of life for Beth Snyder and Lori McFarland as long as they can remember.

As teenagers, they attended the school and on Friday nights performed at halftime as members of Largo's band.

Snyder, whose maiden name was Woodside, graduated in 1979, and McFarland, whose last name was DeMarco, in 1980. They both went to college, got married and had children.

Now they are back at Largo High on Friday nights. But this time around, they are working the concession stand for the football team's booster club.

"I enjoy football and working with the players, said Snyder, 47, a microbiologist by day, who remains active with the boosters, even though her son, Matthew, graduated in 2005. "It's good to watch these boys grow up and mature and go through the whole process with them."

McFarland's son, Ryan, is a senior on this year's team. She's been involved with the booster club since older son Daniel played.

"I feel it's really important to show my sons support and that I'm proud of them," said McFarland, director of nurses and clinical services at Kindred Hospital in South Tampa. "Plus, I get to know the parents of the kids that my son hangs around with and you get to know the kids and in this day and age, you have to know that."

Before every home game, Snyder and McFarland head to Sam's Club in Clearwater and shop for mounds of hot dogs, hamburgers, ring pops and nacho chips. They want the food to be fresh so they usually shop Thursday evenings. The tab was $916 on a recent trip.

Robbie Mai, 53, does most of the grilling. He also graduated from Largo and his sons have been on the team. Brandon, now 25, was the kicker when he played and Austin is a junior on this year's team. It's about more than serving up blow pops and cheeseburgers for Mai, as well.

"The kids know we are there and that we care," said Mai, who has worked for Pinellas County in fleet management for 35 years. "We care about what goes on in their lives."

Largo head coach Rick Rodriguez can't say enough about the work the booster club does. Debbie Page, a parent of a former player, arranged all the team's pregame meals, many of which were sponsored by local businesses.

Concession stand proceeds go directly to the football team in a variety of ways:

• Help players pay for cleats, shorts or summer football camps.

• Help purchase new uniforms.

• Pay for videotapes of players to be sent to college recruiters.

• Pay for the football banquet.

Those pregame meals are especially helpful, Rodriguez said, because they allow him to keep the players at school before the game. That ability, he said, reduces the chance a player will get in trouble or miss a game from an unforeseen complication away from school grounds.

"It's overwhelming," Rodriguez said of the parents' help. "It takes a huge burden off my back and they do an outstanding job. It helps out a lot."

For the parents, they see firsthand where the money they help raise is going.

"You see them graduate and they come back and visit from colleges and they say hello and hug you," Snyder said. "That makes you feel good. They are great kids. They really are."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or dalee@sptimes.com

About this series

Every week during the regular season, Beyond the Gridiron will take a look at the Packers football program from different perspectives. This week, we look at the role parents play.

Miss a week?

Find past stories plus photos and multimedia at tampabay.com.

Largo Packers booster club's concession stand is labor of love 11/04/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 7, 2008 12:20pm]
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