Stacey Stewart, Lely High School head football coach, is taking an upscale approach to getting the Trojans back on the football map.
Out is the traditional touchdown club. In is the Lely TD Club whose members make a financial contribution to belong.
Also new is a Facebook site, Lely High School "Trojans." On Friday it had 100 "friends." By Tuesday it had more than 1,200, Stewart said.
The friends are offered the opportunity to join the Alumni Booster Club and be part of the TD Club, all with a price. There are forms to join either, or both, on the website.
Forms appear with this story on naplesnews.com and marconews.com.
On the site Stewart tells his friends that "former Trojan football player John Paul and myself are wanting to start a mentoring program for the current LHS football players. If you would be interested in investing in our future, please message John or myself."
Paul played tight end, wider receiver and safety at Lely in 1993, going on to play college football, Stewart said. His objective is to match current players with alumni who played the same position when at Lely.
He has also posted this year's football schedule, also online at naplesnews.com and marconews.com
Stewart plans on honoring different decades of alumni at each game this year.
"We will also be having a special night honoring the Class of 88 for being the state championship runner up. Our goal is to get back there," he said.
Having a tent for alumni and looking into having tailgate parties is not far down the road.
The Alumni Booster Club membership level is $25, which includes a Lely decal and membership card, good for discounts on select merchandise that will be available at the TD Club booth at games.
The TD Club membership levels go from $50 to $1,000.
The Kickoff Level, $50, provides a membership card, good for discounts at the TD Club booth and logo hat. Added to the White Level, $100, is a Lely T-shirt. Black Level, $250, adds mug and Polo shirt and complimentary general parking pass for all home games. Orange Level, $500, adds two reserved season tickets with all the other gifts.
The Championship Level, $1,000 has all the other gifts, plus two logo hats, two mugs, two Polo shirts, Trojans license plate, free admission to new Touchdown Club Kickoff Dinner, free admission to new annual Season Kickoff Dinner, with a meet and greet the players and coaches, discount entry for four people at the annual Lely Trojan Classic Golf Tournament, preferred season parking pass, two priority-level reserve seat season tickets on 50-yard line and two stadium Lely seat cushions.
Stewart said changing the Lely Touchdown Club from solely volunteer to making a donation is a sound way to build a program.
"They are showing their support for the program by making a donation," Stewart. "I think they also will appreciate all the gifts that recognize their commitment."
Stewart said some of the Touchdown Club members remain. Most of those leaving was because they no longer had a player on the team, he said.
The Touchdown Club statement says, "The club is a nonprofit 501c3 organization, established to support the Lely football program. It focuses on building men of character and integrity."
While not in the statement, it also applies to cheerleaders.
Some of what the TD Club wants to do includes transportation for football and cheerleading teams, fund camps for football and cheerleading teams, a retreat and coaching clinics, make improvements to the football facilities, including weight room and athletic equipment, contribute academic support through a partnership with the Lely High School National Honor Society and provide recruiting tools and the Hudl program to allow players the opportunities for exposure.
The last item, Stewart explains, includes an online film study program, called Hudl, where players and coaches can watch film, grade the game and players can create their own highlights to send to colleges of their choice.
"I know it will take time to get it all in place, but it is only through the support of everyone that we can become a strong football program," he said.
The team is taking part in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Football Camp at Ave Maria University, which began on Wednesday and runs through Saturday.
More than 125 players take part in weight lifting and conditioning drills on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at Lely.
"They are getting bigger, faster and stronger," Stewart said. "They are sacrificing now to be rewarded in the future."
More photos online at marconews.com