Barbara Moore just might be the
No. 1 fan of the Chamblee Charter High School football Bulldogs.
A long-time volunteer at the high school, the 75-year-old Moore, known as “grandma,” is a fixture around the Chamblee football program.
“I go to every game,” Moore said, admitting, “I’m kind of loud in the stands.”
But her devotion to the team goes deeper than just regular game attendance – she buys treats for the players who do well, sometimes rides the bus with the team to away games, and gives pep talks.
“I have been known to go into the locker room afterward,” Moore said. “They know to block, because if they haven’t been blocking, I’ll fuss at ‘em.”
Go to any high school football stadium during a game and you’ll likely feel the unmistakable energy of teenagers crammed into the stands with their friends, clapping and cheering for their classmates on the field. But for many adults, the joy of Friday night football is just as sweet.
“It’s a great pleasure to sit in the stands with family and friends,” said Steven Scales, a Dunwoody High School Wildcats fan. “Friday night is a great opportunity for fellowship, to end the work week on a great note, to be with friends, and watch your children play after they’ve put in so much time to be able to play on Friday night.”
Around metro Atlanta, there are fans just as devoted to their high school teams as any NFL fan is to his or her pro players. High school football may not have all the fanfare of the game at the college or professional level, but many say that’s why they like it.
“It’s more than just football. It’s more than the enjoyment of the game. It’s knowing the kids, and knowing how proud they are of themselves and how proud their parents are,” said Bart Miller, a fan of the Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School Golden Bears.
“Grandma” Moore loves it when her Chamblee Bulldogs win, but she loves it even more when she knows the players are doing well in school. “As a team, we want to have the highest scores of anybody in the county, state and on,” Moore said.
She encourages the players who are doing well in school to help tutor those on the team who are struggling. And she’s proud of Chamblee alumni who have gone on to play football for top academic schools, such as Georgia Tech.
“They know if the team average starts going down, I’ll parade myself down on the field and start giving them a talk.”
She buys boxes and boxes of bone-shaped graham crackers to award the players for good performance on the field and in the classroom. “We have ‘Scooby Snacks’ because we’re bulldogs,” Moore said.
She said she’s proud to be associated with such a fine group of student athletes. “The kids all know they are respectable and intelligent,” she said. Scales is a father of two boys who have played football for Dunwoody High School. The president of the school’s booster club for the past six years, he decided to step down this year and spend more time enjoying the games and rooting for his son, Tylor, a rising junior.
“I decided I just wanted to be more of a dad in the stands and just focus on him,” Scales said.
His oldest son, Treavor, was a star player for Dunwoody who went on to play at the college level. “He had a very good career at Dunwoody and an exceptional career at Harvard,” Scales said.
He said he loves Dunwoody High School because supporting the school and supporting the football team seems to be a community effort.
“It’s the families that are willing to roll up their sleeves. The parents who work all day but volunteer to feed the boys before the games, who volunteer to come out in the summers for a car wash,” Scales said. “It can be an extremely close family environment.”
Scales said he’s excited about seeing the Wildcats play this year. “Watching the kids that are going to be sophomores, juniors and seniors who had a very tough season last year, watching their maturity and development and their commitment to getting better is by far the best I’ve seen in years,” Scales said. “They learned by baptism last year. This year the expectation is things will be better.”
Miller has a mental countdown clock running until Holy Innocents’ first football game of the season.
“I love high school football. Particularly Holy Innocents’ Golden Bear high school football,” Miller said.
In fact, Miller is credited with bringing the sport to Holy Innocents’.
“My youngest son went there, and it was before the time we had football. He had to leave Holy Innocents’, unfortunately, to play high school football.”
Miller said his son, who went on to be an offensive lineman at the University of Georgia, had a hard time leaving his friends at Holy Innocents’, where he had gone to school since kindergarten.
Miller served for several years on the school’s board of trustees and worked to make football an option for boys at Holy Innocents’. “I didn’t want other kids to have to do what my son had to do,” Miller said.
Miller said he thinks the addition of a football program has been a “positive force” for Holy Innocents’.
“It has lifted school spirit,” Miller said. “It’s lifted the spirit of all the sports.”
Miller said he goes to almost every Holy Innocents’ game. He often sees other parents whose children have graduated, but still enjoy the spirit of those high school football games.
“Football’s kind of a bellwether here in the South,” Miller said. “It’s a place where the community gathers.”