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Gridiron grub: Concession stands feed hungry high school football fans

Mary Pickels
| Wednesday, September 26, 2018 6:36 p.m.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Stephanie Brody, of Youngwood, a member of the Hempfield Area Football Parents Club, hands hot dogs to customers while working at the concession stand at Hempfield Area High School’s stadium before the start of Friday night football against Norwin on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Kenn Miller, a parent member of the Hempfield Area Football Parents Club, helps get nachos together for customers with his son, J.R Miller (right) while parents and students work at the concession stand at Hempfield Area High School before the start of Friday night football against Norwin on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Concession stand worker J.R Miller serves hot burgers to customers while working at the concession stand at Hempfield Area High School before the start of Friday night football against Norwin on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Parent member of the Hempfield Area Football Parents Club, Tony Gockel, of Manor, and Jim Norris, of Greensburg, (right) cook burgers on the grill while working at the concession stand at Hempfield Area High School before the start of Friday night football against Norwin on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Volunteer Susi Heasley helps customers at the Leechburg concession stand prior to a game against Riverview on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Lisa Vozar vice-president of the Mother’s Club (foreground) and volunteer Jill Sorisio help customers at the Leechburg concession stand prior to a game against Riverview on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.
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Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Volunteer Dave Heasley helps customers at the Leechburg concession stand prior to a game against Riverview on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.

Watching high school football games can work up quite an appetite for the bleacher crowd.

The volunteers, typically parents, manning the concession stands count on it.

And though snacks and soft drinks are popular, they don’t satisfy the typical game-watching appetite, concession operators said.

And they don’t put a lot of dollars in the coffers that help support the athletes on the field.

None of that is lost on the moms and dads, grandmoms and granddads, students and assorted school staff and other volunteers who order, cook or take payment for the food sold at area high school concession stands.

This menu is not ‘spartan’

The menu at Hempfield Area High School Spartans games stays pretty much the same, said Janice Knight, concession stand coordinator for the Hempfield Area Football Parents Club.

Customers happily fill their stomachs with Chick-fil-A sandwiches, she said.

“We have haluski on the menu — all homemade. Someone always makes that, and it’s always gone,” Knight said.

Cooks “grill on order” hot dogs, hamburgers and sausage.

“We get all that locally from Laurel Hill Provision ,” she added.

Among the most popular items are those Chick-fil-A sandwiches, nachos and pretzels (“big and soft”), Knight says.

Pizza from Giannilli’s also sells well.

“Our (two) stands always do really well,” Knight said.

“We have our ninth- and tenth-grade parents run the concessions; eleventh- and twelfth-grade parents run the 50/50 and do sales and programs,” she said.

That way, those with older children on the teams can watch them play.

“They paid their dues already,” Knight said.

“We have a nice, big group of volunteers,” she said.

The money that is raised from the home games’ food sales is kept in-house for the team, she said.

Steve Miletics, club president, said much of the profit goes to feed and help outfit the team.

Funds help feed the athletes at summer camp, provide after-practice snacks and pre-game and Thursday night team meals, he said.

“We always get their new 7-on-7 gear. This year, we finally saved up enough to get warm-up gear, jackets. We hope to add pants in the future. We try to do what we can (bit by bit) and help the boys out,” he said.

Moms — and more — fill Leechburg’s concession roster

The Leechburg Area Mothers Club operates a bit differently from typical volunteer sports concession stands, said Susan Heasley, former president.

Employed as a paraprofessional with the Leechburg Area School District, she is the parent of a graduate but remains involved with the club.

“Our concession stand is very unique. We don’t help the football team. We help all students in grades six through twelve,” Heasley said.

Funds raised go toward everything from paying for a DJ for a dance to homecoming court charms to college scholarships to paying for portions of letterman’s jackets for all sports, she said.

Despite the club’s name, Heasley said, dads, granddads and uncles also are welcome.

As for what is available to quell Friday night hunger pangs, she said a variety of hot dogs — topped with chili, cheese and sauerkraut — always goes over well.

The ever popular walking taco and extreme nachos also are on the “must-keep-on-the-menu” list.

Vocelli’s Pizza also is a game-night staple for the Blue Devils crowd.

Homecoming and senior farewell games might lead to a special item being sold, Heasley said — hot sausage or haluski or ham barbecue.

“We have a new item, a colossal soft pretzel, $1.50, with cheese, $2. Let me tell you, I’m probably going to put on 40 pounds,” she said, laughing.

At the end of the season, members tally up their proceeds and vote on how to disperse the funds, Heasley said.

Keeping to the classics

“Our crowds just seem to like the classics,” said Ed Gratton, director of concessions for the Gateway Football Boosters Association in Monroeville.

“We try to keep it to hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, walking tacos, pizza. We have a grill and cook everything there, and people get the scent of it,” he said.

It’s all part of the marketing plan, Gratton said with a laugh.

Depending on the temperature during a Gators game, halftime means patrons will line up for cold drinks or hot chocolate and coffee, he added.

Volunteers are pretty easily acquired, as athletes’ parents are required to lend a hand for at least one shift per season, Gratton said.

Breaking even with pre-game and post-game meals for athletes and coaches accounts for some of the spending, said Carl Frenchik, association president.

“With the funds we raise, we support our team for the whole season. Everything we get goes back into the program — clothing items, travel suits, end-of-year gifts, banners for the stadium,” Gratton said.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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