Videoboard offers new vantage point at Cherokee
by Emily Horos
August 04, 2013 12:58 AM | 5912 views | 18 18 comments | 74 74 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The construction of a new videoboard at Cherokee’s Tommy Baker Field involved a great deal of connections. An employee of the company that installed it has a son in the football program’s feeder system, while Duane Graham,  a member of the touchdown club, called in a favor to an acquaintance of his — ESPN anchor Jay Crawford — to deliver pre-game introductions prior to the Warriors’ first home game.
<BR>Staff photo by Todd Hull
The construction of a new videoboard at Cherokee’s Tommy Baker Field involved a great deal of connections. An employee of the company that installed it has a son in the football program’s feeder system, while Duane Graham, a member of the touchdown club, called in a favor to an acquaintance of his — ESPN anchor Jay Crawford — to deliver pre-game introductions prior to the Warriors’ first home game.
Staff photo by Todd Hull
CANTON — Cherokee football coach Josh Shaw hadn’t had his position long when he had a conversation with Duane Graham while walking across the field behind the high school last November.

The two were talking about the future of the program and what it would take to build excitement for the program. The Warriors had just gone 1-9 in Shaw’s first season, and the coach recalled Graham, the director of sponsorship for the school’s touchdown club, bringing up the idea of getting a videoboard.

“When (Shaw) came up from Etowah and took the job, Cherokee was starving for some good things to happen,” said Graham, whose son is a member of the freshman football team. “There was so much excitement that first year. At the end of the season, we were in the end zone looking up at our old scoreboard and I said, ‘Let’s put a Jumbotron in here,’ and he looked at me like I kicked him.”

Shaw admitted to laughing at the idea, but the two kept talking.

Soon, a plan was hatched to install a new scoreboard at the school, complete with the county’s largest videoboard. The key part of the plan was to have sponsors back the entire purchase, so that neither touchdown club nor the school district would be responsible for making the payments.

Shaw said Cherokee principal Debra Murdock quickly got on board.

With Graham contacting businesses in the area, often one-by-one, the financial backing soon came together.

“I started talking to businesses and a lot of them wanted to support us,” he said. “I put a proposal together and reached out to those who were a part of the Cherokee family.”

Cherokee scored a big win when Graham contacted a man whose son is coming up through the football feeder system. The man is an employee of YESCO, one of the nation’s top digital sign and videoboard companies. Through him, Graham was able to put together a payment plan that suited the school.

Graham said he didn’t target specific companies — he emailed business registered with the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce that operated in Canton — but he found that many of those who chose to be sponsors had a connection to the school.

For example, Steven Folsom of 911 Restoration is a Cherokee graduate, while Beth Dozier of ReMax Town and Country has a son who graduated from the school. Juan Butler, who owns Vertical Vision Financial Marketing, was another top sponsor. Butler has a son who graduated from Cherokee, and younger children zoned to attend the school.

Other sponsors with connections to the school include Gregg McDermott (Texas Roadhouse), Eric Stark (Supreme Lending), Dr. Chris Alvey and Kathy Alvey (BridgeMill Animal Hospital), Josh Baby (ALFA Insurance), Billy Cagle (Mid-City Pharmacy) and Sheree Edmondson (Allstate).

Shaw said the project would not have been possible without the help of the local businesses.

“Those businesses are the ones that will be making the payment for us for the next five years,” Shaw said. “There was not any money coming out of football. We actually solicited the sponsorships before we purchased it. We sold all those people on the vision of it. They believed in that vision when we really had nothing to show them.”

Altogether, more than $125,000 was pledged to the project.

“We are completed sold-out right now and there is a little bit of a waiting list,” Graham said.

The scoreboard was installed in the north end zone of Tommy Baker Field at the end of May, making Cherokee the second of the county’s six schools — after Woodstock — with a videoboard.

“When that thing is on, it is amazing,” Graham said.

The new addition won’t just benefit the teams that use the field. A class has been added at Cherokee to train students to operate the board.

Joe Steward, head of the school’s video production department, will head up the class.

“We are going to do the whole kit and kaboodle,” Shaw said. “In our video production class, there will be an internship through them to run it. They will have a class that is responsible for creating the effects for the game. We are going to have instant replay in the games, in-game commercials and pre-game commercials from our sponsors and introduce starting lineups. We just didn’t want to get it for the sake of getting it. We wanted to get it and be as effective as we can with it.”

The plan for football season is to have two active video cameras at each game. One will focus on in-game action, while the other will be a “fan-cam” to engage the audience.

Fans attending Cherokee’s first home game, Sept. 13 against North Forsyth, will be treated to introductions by Jay Crawford, an anchor with ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and an acquaintance of Graham’s.

“He is going to do an intro for us for the very first game,” Graham said. “We are working this up to be something big.”

The resolution of the videoboard is high enough that it can be viewed even in daylight. There are also plans to host movie nights.

“We can open up the concession stand and bring everyone in with a lawn chair and they can sit on the game field and we can watch a movie and do a mini-fundraiser,” Shaw said.

Still Shaw thinks back to the day nine months ago, when it all started to take shape, and he said it never would have happened without Graham.

Graham lived in Chicago until 2007, but upon his arrival in Canton, he quickly adopted the school as his own.

“I bleed Cherokee,” he said. “I just saw so many opportunities here for things that we could do for the community.”

Graham, meanwhile, said that none of it would have been possible without the support of Murdock.

“She made it easy,” he said. “She understood what it meant to her program, what it meant to her student base, what it meant to the players. It was easier than what I thought it would be, and it was extremely easier than what coach Shaw thought. He thought this was a long shot, and I told him, ‘Let’s just keep the faith,’ and we did.”

The upgrades at Cherokee are expected to continue in the upcoming year with the addition of a new field house.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 14, 2013
Games are won on the field, not on the scoreboard. Let's not forget that fact. Coach Shaw certainly hasn't. The player's have to buy into the program, and it's all the way down the feeder system. AAAAAA classification and their region is not for the faint hearted. It's not going to happen overnight but Coach Shaw and his staff needs the community support to be successful.........
Warrior Nation - Not
August 12, 2013
Can't wait for another 1-9 season. Don't worry, Shaw will blame it on the players not being in his program for long enough. He doesn't deserve to be called coach. Maybe he should wait to win a few games before thinking how great a coach he is, because he isn't. All you people buying into his snake oil sales will see.
Jealous Kills
August 17, 2013
You must have been a JV player that didn't put the time in but expected to play the whole time because you felt you deserved it. So when you were forgotten and didn't get his attention you failed. Stop hatin' and being jealous. You missed out. Own it!
August 06, 2013
Still not as big as woodstocks new score board all cherokee did was throw some paint on that old rusty scoreboard put a video screen on top and put up some wood panels on the side with sponsors not impressive at all and cherokee is still going to be the dust pan of the region again
You wish
August 07, 2013
Woodchucks starting that side down to losers vill back were they started LOL
WHS=No Sponsors
August 08, 2013
You mean the only two, potentially only one, sponsors you have over there. WHS=Woodstock High Sucks
Missed Opportunity
August 05, 2013
And to think this guy contacted us a few times and we said NO. I remember it was a great package so cuddos but we thought we could get in at the last minute. Need to rethink that strategy. Congrats!!!
Ok Whatever
August 05, 2013
Cherokee can gold plate the stands and serve will still be Cherokee. Get a field that is worth something. Your facilities are junk. Whatever.
What about us
August 04, 2013
Hey Sequoyah had a video board before Woodstock and Cherokee. Albeit we use it as a glorified powerpoint presentation and don't know how to use it we can at least say "we have one". We cannot see ours that good during the day with glare. Do I sound jealous....may a little. Way to step up the competition Cherokee. Sequoyah AD can you hear us now....get us something.
Loud and Proud
August 04, 2013
There is not a better story right now in High School football. This program is on the rise and look forward to watching. Love the Warrior program, coaches, players, teachers, and volunteers who do so much for this program. Debra Murdock is an inspiration and leader greatly appreciate all she has done for Cherokee. Coach Shaw and the Coaches have their hands full but people start believing more and more every day and we have not even started the 2nd season under Shaw. Go Warriors!
Ed Ragsdale
August 04, 2013
Great job Duane. The Warrior Nation is lucky to have you on it's side. So many people told you this could not be done but your dedication and hard work made it happen. As a proud supporter of the Warriors I thank you for all you do.
August 04, 2013
Can the county give all of BridgeMill back to Cherokee so my kids can attend there?
County Commish
August 04, 2013
Cherokee on the rise, Etowah on the slide, Sequoyah maybe, Creekview ummm yea and Woodstock is irrelevant. Heard it here first.....
August 04, 2013
Wow. At Cherokee? I have heard great things about the academics but now the Football program is coming around? While currently considering moving to a new school for my son, I will definitely be considering Cherokee because the district lines are so close. Love seeing the support of the community.
School Left Nameless
August 04, 2013
Ok now I am starting to get concerned that a sleeping giant is about to be woken up. Cherokee has been non-relevent for so long but with Coach Shaw going there you can see the changes happening. I heard they did great in 7 on 7's and now changing their facilities to build around their team. Even though we are rivals we all should watch out for Cherokee. #nojoke
August 04, 2013
Would be GREAT to see the same enthusiasm applied to purchase something for math or science classes. Nope... Part of the southern culture that keeps states like GA at the bottom nationally in education.
Idiot JWG
August 05, 2013
By was of your stupid name you need more than math and science. And Cherokee is one of the top academic schools in the South moron. Do the research.
Go back north
August 07, 2013
Funny all corporations moved south to get a way from you you highly educated people that run them in the ground LOL
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