MARQUETTE, Mich. - The green army tent located steps from the Superior Dome looks like any other tent. Nothing really special about the tent from the outside. But once you walk in it becomes a special place. Before any home football game or for that matter any Northern Michigan University football game the parents of the payers are inside with their own version of a tailgate.
Home or away a special group of people follow the NMU football team. The group is the Wildcat Football Parent Association (WFPA) and this is the first year of the organization. With any group there is a purpose. With the WFPA the purpose is to increase parent organization, player support and overall team fun and camaraderie.
The main person behind the WFPA is Bob Belmonte, the father of NNU kicker Rockne Belmonte, but he does not consider himself the organizer. Belmonte considers himself more or an instigator than an organizer. The idea for this organization was born from when Belmonte’s older son played football at Michigan State and Saginaw Valley State. “We had been exposed to parent organizations there and when we came up for the spring game, we talked to Coach Anderson,” said Belmonte. “We wanted to instigate some camaraderie.”
Last spring Belmonte sprung into action with an apparel order and e-mail addresses of everybody. The WFPA has its own apparel. He then got the e-mail addresses of all the parents in the fall and started e-mailing them. “We started communicating about getting together with e-mail blasts to have fun,” said Belmonte.
He set up a network of hotels for all the games home and away for the parents to book a room, so they can all stay together Friday night. A plus is that all the away hotels are the same hotel the team is staying. Before the “boys” go into battle the next day the parents can see their sons and wish them well. He has organized treats, such as sandwiches, fruit and health bars, for players and coaches at away games. Also treats from the WFPA make their way onto the bus for those long rides back to Marquette from the stops of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).
The organization is appreciated by the head man himself Bernie Anderson. “You have to give credit to Bob and his wife, Pamela (Belmonte) in getting this organization started along with Maxine Anderson,” said Anderson. “I think it has a great impact to bring everybody together.”
Belmonte feels that the team has worked hard to prepare themselves for the schedule. He feels, let’s have fun together and cheer the team on. “Support the coaches and players whether they win or lose,” said Belmonte. “Not every kid has a great game. Just trying to make it positive and have fun.”
According to Belmonte when people have fun they continue to do things. “I think we are growing and with more participation it would be good,” said Belmonte. He would like to open it up to any parent of any former NMU football player. “We want parents if they still want to come to the games to be able to bond with other parents,” said Belmonte. “May be these parents can learn from those parents to help their boys.”
It is a great idea to see a group like the WFPA set up and support the NMU football team. What a way to have a little fun and meet people who have a common interest.
### NMU ###
Sports Information Director