Sparks residents may wake up one morning to find a bunch of plastic pink flamingos in their front yard with a hint of how they got there. Since September 21, eight houses in Sparks have been “flocked” as a fundraising effort for the Sparks Pop Warner teams. Coaches receive tips from their cheerleading squad and supporters on which houses to target and then discreetly “flock” Sparks’ homes.
Trying to think of ways to generate funds to help the team of 20 Pop Warner cheerleaders competes in nationals, head coach Jaime Rosaschi and her assistant coach (and sister) Danielle Smith were Googling fundraiser ideas when they stumbled upon the flocking concept. Since it’s not something that is commonly done, they figured it would be a perfect concept to apply in the Sparks’ community. Since October is the kickoff for Pop Warner season and is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they thought that it would be a natural fit to flock local neighborhoods with plastic pink flamingos.
“The (football) games start at the end of September, but now is when the girls start figuring out what is expected of them and come together as a team,” says Rosaschi. Last month they held a car wash and used the money to purchase 50 plastic pink flamingoes from Home Depot. When they showed up, the pink flamingos were split up into two groups and started making their way to people’s front yards.
However, residents aren’t totally caught off guard about what is happening as the Pop Warner will leave a flyer attached to the flamingo closest to the front door explaining what the organization is all about and what they are trying to accomplish, along with donation options such as:
• $15 for “trained technicians” to come out and have the flamingos removed
• $20 to have the trained techs come out and remove the flock plus relocate them to another address
• $30 insurance to keep a home safe from future flockings
• $5 fee to find out the person who had them flocked
The flock stays at a residence for 2-4 days until they find another place to graze at. Although the team can’t participate in installing a flock because it usually happens late at night past their bedtimes, the girls are involved by giving their coaches tips on who to flock. Then Rosaschi, her husband, and sometimes the other assistant coach Heather Brashear will go out and help the flamingos find their next temporary home.
“It’s kind of a rush for us,” says Rosaschi, “and everyone has been a good sport about it”. The coaches have provided some transparency for the flockings by giving people a head’s up on Facebook with the warning that if the Pop Warner team knows their address, they are at risk of getting flocked.
One of the marks of a recent flocking was actually Sparks City Councilman Donald Abbott.
“I laughed when I saw them in my front yard as I walked out of my home. I was on my way to do a ride-a-long with the Public Works Department at the City of Sparks so didn’t have much time to read the sign about it until I got home that afternoon. I did see my friend got flocked and I was half anticipating of being flocked at some point, which I turned out to be next. It’s a great cause that I’m happy to support,” says Abbott.
“He was a planned target,” says Rosaschi, who slyly mentioned that he was a close friend of hers who she has known for years. “Donald was 100 percent on board on helping kids grow up to become responsible, successful human beings. He loved to be involved in a youth program where kids learn the fundamentals of both academics and sports. There is a big scholastic component to being on the team- girls have to meet minimum grade requirements to participate. This program isn’t just about sports, it’s about creating well-rounded individuals,” says Rosaschi.
The flockings- along with other fundraising efforts- will hopefully allow the Pop Warner cheerleading team attend a Nationals competition in Orlando. The team must place first or second in a Regionals competition to qualify for Nationals. If and when that happens, the team must give a yes or no answer on if they plan to attend Nationals and put a deposit down on the spot. The cheerleading team won the Regionals competition last year but unfortunately could not come up with the funds to attend Nationals.
“We’ve already visited 50 businesses this year and are trying to get a jumpstart on the fundraising,” says Rosaschi. “I’ve seen what the girls can do…We have a new competition routine that is 10 times better than last year’s and I’m very confident that we can make it to Nationals this year.”
Rosaschi adds that the girls “work their little butts off to qualify”, but then are disappointed when there’s not enough money in the budget to send the team to Orlando. It costs around $15,000-$20,000 for the entire team of 20 girls and coaches to enter the competition and stay for seven nights at a Disney World resort, park passes, and meals. However, since airfare is not included, Rosaschi figures that $50,000 is a good number that would cover all costs.
The Pop Warner cheerleading team is also hoping to get donations through corporate sponsorships. “Although the flockings are raising awareness, it doesn’t bring in a ton of money,” says Rosaschi. “Sponsors are going to be huge for us. The girls had disappointment last year when they qualified and couldn’t go to Nationals. They practice three days a week and hold fundraisers every weekend. I grew up on a Pop Warner team that went to Nationals in Orlando and it was an unforgettable experience.
Travelling as a team, going across the country, entering in the competition… it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that went beyond my expectations. I really want our girls to be able to experience that,” Rosaschi says.
If you would like to submit a tip or an address of someone who can be flocked in good fun, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Sparks Pop Warner, visit www.sparkspopwarner.com.