HISTORY OF THE AFA QUARTERBACK CLUB OF DENVER

February 2014

The Air Force Academy Quarterback Club of Denver (originally named The Falcon Quarterback Club) was founded in 1960 by a group of Denver business leaders who wanted to actively support the new Air Force Falcons.  It was incorporated as an IRS 501(c)(9) social organization, and exists in that form to this day.

Mission

The mission of the Air Force Academy Quarterback Club of Denver is to foster interest in and to support the Air Force Academy Intercollegiate Athletic Program.  It is unique in that it became the first non-military organization to support intercollegiate athletics at this or any other Academy.  It is now in its sixth decade (1960’s, ’70’s, ’80’s, ’90’s, 2000’s, 2010’s), and is recognized as the longest established private organization in the United States supporting a military academy sports program.

The Early Years

The Club was established when the Academy had just moved from Lowry AFB to its permanent site north of Colorado Springs. Air Force home football games were played at the University of Denver stadium until Falcon Stadium opened in 1962. The Academy football team, under Head Coach Ben Martin, had already developed a strong following among Denver supporters, especially after their inaugural undefeated season in 1958, and their subsequent appearance in the Cotton Bowl, where they tied TCU and received a Top 10 ranking.

Founding Club members wanted to do everything possible to encourage support, not only for football and other Academy athletic teams, but also for the institution itself. They recognized that Coach Martin had a formidable task.

His job, and that of other intercollegiate coaches, was twofold. First, he was required to field a team that would compete on a national basis against tough programs such as Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Stanford, Army, Navy, and others.  Second, he was asked to be one of the main “public faces” of the Academy, speaking to the general public, raising funds for the construction of Falcon Stadium, and lobbying in Washington for additional funding for the athletic program. Thus, the Quarterback Club became a welcome advocate, not just for athletics, but also for the fledgling institution itself.

Rodger Dougherty was the first President of the Club and did the early play-by-play on radio for the Air Force games.  He was instrumental in starting the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.  Ray Radar, the Club’s third President credits the hiring of Minetta Miller as Executive Secretary as an important milestone in the Club’s development.  She provided the club with some organization and a central location to work from.  In 1976 Al Sigman was the first Academy graduate to become Club President.  In 1984 the Falcon Quarterback Club opened the membership to women and in 1993 Winnetta Mahaffey was the first woman President of the Club.

The Club initially met for several years in the Petroleum Club Building at 16th & Broadway in downtown Denver, and as it expanded it later met in the Playboy Club, then the Denver Athletic Club, then at various hotel locations in the Denver Tech Center throughout the 1980s & 90s. At its zenith in the late 1990s, with Head Coach Fisher DeBerry speaking at the weekly fall luncheons, it had over 500 members, ran 3 golf tournaments, and hosted a spring dinner-dance for the coaches and their spouses.

Membership

Membership in the Air Force Academy Quarterback Club is open to all who wish to support the Air Force Academy and the Intercollegiate Athletic program.  Its members include a diverse and eclectic collection of Air Force Academy graduates, parents of cadets and graduates, business leaders in the metro Denver area, corporate sponsors, active and retired military and anyone who enjoys Air Force Academy sports. Members promote the values of the Air Force Academy while participating in the excitement of its accomplishments.

Activities

Throughout the year, and especially during football season, the members meet for lunch, usually on Thursday, at Valley Country Club.  Speakers include Air Force Academy leaders, Coaches, local sports media, and other distinguished speakers with interesting things to say. Luncheons feature a social hour, door prizes, a wonderful meal, and featured talks.

Contrary to popular belief, no tax dollars are appropriated to sustain intercollegiate sports at the Air Force Academy.  The Quarterback Club contributes the award to the Outstanding Football Player of the Year, supports the football team’s end-of-season dinner banquet, and also supports the Athletic Department with occasional donations for special needs. The Quarterback Club financed the formation of the AFA Athletic Foundation, a 501(c)(3) corporation, staffing that organization’s officer positions for several years, as it raised over $250,000 for the AFA Athletic Department.

Some of the past support our Club has provided to the Air Force Academy Athletic Association has been:

  • Co-Sponsored an annual Awards Banquet for the football team
  • Contributed to the purchase of a new “Uniform” for “The Bird”
  • Purchased a new stereo system for the locker room
  • Provided framing for the football pictures displayed in the Field House
  • Contributed funding towards the expansion of the press box at Falcon Stadium
  • Fund honorariums to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on behalf of Coach DeBerry
  • Provided the annual Football Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the Athletic Awards Ceremony
  • Purchased caricatures of each football player receiving All Conference recognition
  • Contributed funding towards the Coaches TV show
  • Contributed funding towards the new Academy Athletic Hall of Fame
  • Provided Mountain West Conference Banners for the weight lifting room
  • Funded construction of a trophy case to display the Commander-in-Chief Trophy

 

The Quarterback Club extends a special thanks to the following people for their contributions towards writing this Club History:  Winetta Mahaffey, Timo Sullivan, and Pam & Gary Bone.


2017 AFA Football Schedule

AFA Football Schedule 2017
facebook1