Published: July 11, 2013
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Jerry Hobbs fondly remembers his time playing football at Old Forge, cherishing those memories even today, 30 years after he graduated from high school.“I still talk to five or six of my teammates, my best friends,” Hobbs said. “We talk about when we played.”Meanwhile, the current economic climate for high schools facing budget cuts created a desire for Hobbs to think of ways to assist his old program.The result was the formation of the Old Forge Gridiron Alumni Club, which will hold its next meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the banquet room of Café Rinaldi on Main Street in Old Forge. It costs $25 to join the club, which is limited to those ages 21 and older that played at least one year of varsity football at Old Forge.A couple of months ago, Hobbs and others tried to figure out what they could do to help the Blue Devils football program.“We wanted to see if there was any interest in forming a social group and benefit the high school football team,” Hobbs said. “We figured that any money we raised would go to help coach (Mike) Schuback.”Times are tight and being able to assist the program was a worthwhile endeavor for Hobbs and his friends.“We don’t have an ice machine at the fieldhouse,” Hobbs said. “The school board cut out dry cleaning the uniforms from the budget.”Hobbs was quick to point out that it is not a criticism of the board, that having been on the school board before he understands that tough decisions often have to be made. But with this group, Hobbs hopes it may be able to provide certain things that can make life easier for the players and coaches that dedicate a lot of time and effort into making Old Forge a winning football program.So Hobbs proceeds onward, with the backing of fellow officers and a board of directors, looking for ways to impact the football program.“We’re forming a membership committee, and hope to put together an activities committee,” Hobbs said.The one thing Hobbs is looking for is the camaraderie between many generations of Old Forge football players gathering together either before or after Friday night football games, remembering old, good times, hoping what they are doing will help their beloved program. He knows some out-of-town alumni return for Friday night football games, and envisions what the club can do if it can reach those people.“We know people get stressed out about fundraisers,” Hobbs said. “We’re just trying to help out the program.”Hobbs said that current Blue Devils baseball coach Tony DiMattia has joined, and with a large group of multi-sport athletes that have graduated from the school to draw from, there could be a time where the social club expands beyond helping out just the football program. But that is something for sometime down the road.“Right now we’re concentrating on football. There’s a bigger budget in that sport,” Hobbs said.It is the biggest sport, with a proud belief in itself instilled through decades of dedication under a variety of coaches, which will reap the first rewards of the social club.Whether it be procuring an ice machine for the fieldhouse, or ensuring the uniforms are dry cleaned, the Gridiron Alumni Club has high hopes and expectations of assisting the football program to succeed on the field, as well as to bring together generations of football players for a cause close to their hearts.