“We wanted to have one big fundraiser, rather than ‘nickel-and-dime’ a bunch of little ones, like we had done in the past,” explained booster club president Matt Dillard. “In one of our meetings, someone brought up (the A&E network television show) ‘Duck Dynasty’ and wondered if we could somehow get them involved.”
The result of several months of efforts to that end have produced what is expected to be the largest fundraising event in the school’s history when Phil Robertson, of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” will come to town May 17 for a special evening to talk about “Faith, Family and Football,” plus share stories of his now famous family, at First Baptist Church on Stuart Road.
“We’re very excited about it,” declared Dillard. “We feel like with his football background, as well as the values he projects, he is a great fit for our fundraiser.”
Robertson is not only the founder of the Duck Commander Company, a multi-million dollar manufacturer of premier duck calls that are sold around the world, but was also a standout three-sport (football, baseball, track) All-State high school athlete before earning a scholarship to quarterback for Louisiana Tech University, where NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw was his backup.
Along with being the patriarch of the extremely popular reality show, Robertson also has a book being released Tuesday titled, “Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander.”
After getting a confirmed date for the event, plus other details worked out, the group began selling tickets and tables for the event and have had a tremendous response.
“We went to the players’ families first, then to the faculty and the (WVHS) student body, just through word of mouth and things just started taking off,” explained Dillard. “We sold 20 tables (at $1,500 a piece) real quick. I had someone call me last night (Friday) while I was at the Relay For Life wanting a table.”
As of Saturday morning, the group had sold 26 of 30 available tables, plus between 430 and 440 of the 500 balcony seats.
“The tables seat eight and include a meal, a talk by Phil (Robertson) and pictures with him,” related Dillard. “After the meal, he will spend some time with just the (Mustang) football team. Then we will have the everybody gathered for his talk on ‘Faith, Family and Football.’”
The meal time will be from 5:30-6:30 that Friday evening, with his time with just the players lasting an hour before the main gathering starts at 7:30 p.m.
“Our football program has made a big turnaround, and we are trying to do things that will help us continue to build a quality program,” Dillard remarked. “We did a facelift to our facilities when Coach (Glen) Ryan came in (a year and a half ago), and we are continuing to upgrade our equipment.”
“We’ve added a $15,000 five-man blocking sled and a gauntlet for the running backs. Our budget for the upcoming year is a little over $40,000, and we feel like this fundraiser will help us accomplish that goal,” related the Mustang booster club president.
After winning just three games in the three years previous to Ryan taking the head coaching duties, last fall’s Walker Valley’s team snapped a 16-game losing steak by winning its first three games and finishing the 2012 regular season with a 5-5 record and a berth in the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s (TSSAA) playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“We’ve got things heading in the right direction, and we want to continue to build that way,” Dillard declared.
“This (the fundraiser) is a great thing,” praised Coach Ryan. “This way we aren’t asking our players and families to go out selling all kinds of things to help raise money for the program.”
“The booster club has been great. They are doing everything they can to help us build up our program,” he added. “Phil (Robertson) was a tremendous athlete and businessman, but more importantly, he’s a man who emphasizes the more important things in life — faith and family.”
Anyone wishing to acquire tickets should contact the WVHS office at (423) 336-1383, or, for information on a table, contact Dillard at (423) 987-0311. You’ll be “happy, happy, happy” you did.