If you’re a sports fan looking to hang out with like-minded people, the Quarterback Club may be for you. Familiar faces and newcomers alike were welcomed to Straw Hat Pizza on Aug. 28 where the club held its annual kickoff fundraiser.
Rick Dinger, a past club president, said about 55 people attended the event, which included dinner and a silent auction.
It was the third year hosting a fundraiser to start the season. Money raised goes toward scholarships for local high school athletes.
“We didn’t want to raise the price of our lunches and those scholarships are expensive,” Dinger said, “so we decided to start having a kickoff fundraiser every year to get everybody together and get excited for the season.”
The club is a social group that meets for 12 weeks during the football season at the Elks Lodge in Glendale. Coaches from Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Hoover high schools attend and talk about the prior week’s games and highlight particular athletes. There are keynote speakers – often big-time names – and lunch and raffles.
At the end of year, the club gives out those scholarships to the best student-athletes, six of them at $500 each.
Besides the kickoff fundraiser, Dinger said the club does a weekly pick sheet where members choose the outcomes of high school, college and professional games. The club sells advertisements on those sheets.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things to help raise the money for those scholarships,” Dinger said. The winner of the pick sheets receives tickets to UCLA and USC football games.
An exciting part of the meetings is the keynote speaker. Each year the club selects a program chairman to “cash in all their chips” as Dinger puts it, and find former athletes and coaches to come in and speak to the members. Past speakers include Wayne Gretzky, UCLA football PA announcer Chuck White and several L.A. Times sportswriters.
Last year, legendary USC football coach John Robinson spoke.
Usually, getting these names requires lots of preparation and having lots of connections.
“It’s every week, and you have to start way in advance and these guys are busy,” Dinger said. “Everybody knows somebody, [which] helps a lot.”
Speakers usually talk for around 10 minutes and then answer questions. Dinger said they’re really up there to give motivational speeches.
“It’s more just human interest. Everybody wants to hear what it was like when they played,” he said. “It’s more about the stories.”
Dinger is president of Crescenta Valley Insurance. He grew up in the foothills and played football for St. Francis High School. His current role with the Quarterback Club is membership chairman. The goal is to have at least 100 members each year. The cost to take part is $50.
Is it easy to recruit potential members?
“I don’t know, it’s my first year as membership chair so I’ll find out pretty soon,” he said.
Because all three teams are in the Pacific League, Glendale, Hoover and CV all face each other during the football season. But Dinger said when the coaches sit down with each other every week at the Quarterback Club, even after a tough loss to one another, there’s rarely any tension or hard feelings.
“[It’s] a football fraternity; they know how hard each other works,” Dinger said. “They’ve tasted the sweetness of victory and the agony of defeat, and they know a lot of times it’s out of their hands, you know, it’s the fate of the football sometimes.
“It’s really neat to have them all here. It really makes you appreciate the hard work they put in and the dedication and the support they give these kids. They’re really doing a great thing for the community.”
The Quarterback Club meets at the Elks Lodge, 120 E. Colorado Blvd. in Glendale every Tuesday during football season. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. For more information, go to “Glendale Quarterback Club” on Facebook.com.