Herd Booster Club Supports Rampage
by Randy Snow
Originally posted on ArenaFan.com, Sunday, May 19, 2007
Craig Moore has been there since the beginning. He has been a season ticket holder of the Grand Rapids Rampage since the team’s first season in 1998 and claims that he has never missed a Rampage home game.
Moore is the president of the Herd Booster Club and helped found the organization in 1999 along with John Baker, who serves as vice-president of the club. Baker can be seen in the foyer of the Van Andel Arena before each game selling 50-50 raffle tickets. You can also see him dancing to “Cotton Eye Joe” during the game near his seat in the corner of the end zone.
During the team’s first season, Moore and other fans would simply gather informally to tailgate before each game. “The first year, we hung out in a parking lot and grilled,” said Moore. “At the last game of the year, the cops showed up and said, ‘You’re not allowed to do this.’”
A chance meeting at that final game of the first season changed the informal gathering of Rampage fans into an organization that is now in its ninth year.
“At the end of the 1998 season, we were playing the Tampa Bay Storm and the Storm booster club came up for the game,” Moore said. “Pam Smith was the president of their club at the time and she helped us set up our club.”
The club holds spaghetti dinners with the team and they have meetings once a month. They also support the team on the road and have traveled to watch the Rampage play in current AFL cities Chicago, Nashville and Columbus. Over the years they have also traveled to other cities that, unfortunately, no longer have AFL teams. Cities like Milwaukee, Des Moines and Indianapolis.
In the team’s heyday, around the time that they won ArenaBowl XV in 2001, the Herd Booster Club had about 135 members. However, with the team struggling on the field as it has the last few seasons, the club currently only has about 35 members. But they are hardcore fans who continue to do whatever it takes to show the team that they are still behind them, no matter what.
The club even awards a $600 scholarship each year to a local high school senior football player. The money for that scholarship comes from the sale of the 50-50 raffle tickets.
The club also actively tries to recruit new fans by giving away two tickets to each home game to someone who has never been to a Rampage game before. “Hopefully, they’ll eventually buy season tickets or mini packages or something,” Moore said.
Before Grand Rapids was awarded a team, Moore followed another AFL team in Michigan, the Detroit Drive. He watched them play on late night ESPN broadcasts and even went to one game in Detroit.
Moore says that, other than having a team come to Grand Rapids and then hosting and winning Arena Bowl XV, one of the greatest moments for the franchise was the signing of quarterback Clint Dolezel after the 2000 season. Conversely, he said one of the worst moments was when Dolezel was released in 2003.
Moore, Baker and the rest of the Herd Booster Club are just some of the unsung heroes throughout the League that, all too often, don’t get enough recognition for the things they do to show their support for their hometown team.
“We do what we can to support the team and the AFL in general,” Moore said.