Pratt High football team hosts lift-a-thon fundraiser for community support.

With football season right around the corner, the Pratt football team hosted a lift-a-thon showcase--‘Night of Champions’--to demonstrate their preparation through the summer and to raise money for the program.

Achieving many personal records, the football players did the hang-clean lift on the Zerger Field turf in front of an audience of spectators.

Jamie Cruce, head football coach and weights teacher, said they first started doing the event a few years ago and though the venue for the event has switched locations throughout the years, the goal has remained the same.

“A few years back, we thought it would be neat to get out in front of the people that support us and give them a chance to come see the kids, and this is kind of a fun lift,” Cruce said. “It’s a one-rep lift that we do [hang-clean], so we just thought it would be neat to get out in front of our friends and family—It’s gone well.”

Cruce said that this event is one way for the community to see the hard work athletes put in during the summer before football season begins.

“Some people are not sure what we do during workouts and this is the last of it that we have before we give them the week off after the summer, so it’s just kind of a nice ending to the summer workouts,” Cruce said. “You figure out everybody’s max—just where they are at—and separate them into different platforms.”

In years past, the event has not been held on the football field as this event on August 2 was, but Cruce said that they hope to be able to continue the event on the field in the future.

“When we’re in the gym, it’s a little more hectic—we have to make sure we’re not hurting the floor, so this was nice being out here on the turf,” Cruce said. “First year out on the field, and really, I prefer it out here if we could, as long as the weather cooperates.”

After a summer of good attendance, Cruce said that they are getting prepared for football season to officially start, and the donations collected from this fundraiser will help make the season even more successful by purchasing equipment when needed and allowing the coaches the opportunity to travel to educational clinics to learn new techniques and ideas.

“It’s a nice way to support the program where it allows the program to kind of flourish,” Cruce said. “As coaches, if we want our kids to get better, we have to get better, so we need to go and get coaching education and talk to people who we feel good about learning things from. All those things are good for the program.”

Though the football team raises some money through helping with concession stands during the year for other sporting events, the lift-a-thon is the only major fundraiser the team does, so Cruce said the team is thankful for community support.

Tyler Strong, social studies teacher and O-line and D-line coach for the football team, said it is neat for him to see where kids are at the end of the year and how far they come after a summer of workouts.

“This is something Coach Cruce has done that we’ve talked about doing in the past and Coach Cruce kind of made it a reality,” Strong said. “It’s just an opportunity for our kids to showcase their ability and their work ethic all summer.”

Caden Blankenship, Pratt High senior and football player, said, “My final PR was 285 pounds—I made a 25-pound jump— and most of my teammates had other big jumps.”

Blankenship said that a few of the players were battling various injuries and illnesses, so they may not have performed as well as they had hoped but after rest and recovery time, they should be ready to go for football season.

“Kadence Riner is another person who made a really big jump—he made a 20-pound jump—so I’m proud of him on that, and I’m looking forward to football season,” Blankenship said. “All of us have been working hard all summer.”