SYCAMORE – Kate Majerus can remember her 6 a.m. summer workouts like they were yesterday.
She recalls the dreaded suicides, heavy lifting days and endless practice shots. Majerus also remembers during every summer workout inside Sycamore’s gymnasium and outside on the football field, there'd be workers installing three lavish new video boards – part of a $300,000 project funded by Sycamore’s booster club.
“It was the talk of the town,” she said.
Majerus, her teammates, Sycamore athletics and the entire Sycamore community were pumped to see what the new HD video boards could do.
But even she didn’t think the boards would have as much as an impact as they’ve had.
After Majerus scored her 1,000th career point in a Christmas tournament on the road, she was given a game ball by Sycamore girls basketball coach Adam Wickness. She said the team didn’t do anything crazy besides give her the game ball.
“When I scored my 1,000 points, coach was saying it stunk how we didn’t do anything about it,” Majerus said.
The following day during practice, Wickness told Majerus the school was planning a small recognition of her 1,000 career points achievement at Sycamore’s next home game. She wasn’t expecting anything crazy, so what happened on game day caught her completely off guard.
Wickness teamed up with representatives from Spartan TV and compiled a congratulations video montage with the help of video messages sent in by several of Majerus’ former teammates – included was her best friend, Tayia Hopkins.
“Other than my grandpa, Tayia is my biggest fan,” Majerus said of the former Sycamore basketball player, who graduated in 2016.
The congratulations videos were shown January 2 before Sycamore hosted Genoa-Kingston. Hopkins’ message was shown at the end of the montage.
Hopkins said in her video message, “I was there for your first two points and now I can say congratulations on your 1,000th point. That is absolutely nuts. …I love you always, Kate. Go Spartans!”
Majerus said that moment put everything into perspective. That she was a senior. That she scored 1,000 career points. That the new video boards at Sycamore High School were the real deal.
“It hit me then,” she said. “We are so blessed to have the boards. We’re so lucky the boosters gifted us with them. They’re very beneficial and put us – put me in tears.”
Sycamore first debuted the new scoreboards during its annual Black vs. Gold scrimmage. Three boards were installed, one near the football field and outdoor track and two in the gymnasium. The indoor boards are 17 feet by 10 feet and 10-by-7, and the outdoor board is 25-by-13. They've been a hit among Sycamore athletes this past fall and winter.
The boards have also provided an educational component for SpartanTV students who operate them and produce commercials, sporting event hype videos and other content for display. Last week, they helped create possibly their most emotional message yet.
“It’s almost like college-level, NFL-type stuff because you feel way more involved in the game,” Sycamore football player Zach Carlsen said.
Sycamore booster club member David Coover estimates the boards, which are manufactured in Omaha, Nebraska will attract roughly $90,000 per year in advertising revenue. He said after figuring out the booster club could gain its money back in just three years and build revenue through advertising, getting the boards became a no-brainer.
“It brings excitement to events,” Coover said. “We’re learning as we go along. It enhances the game experience and allows the boosters to do really cool things for our student athletes down the road.”
Northwestern Medicine is currently signed on as Sycamore’s largest sponsor with a contract of $75,000 for three years, known as a title sponsor.
"Any time it can pay it off and dump that much money into a sports program, it became easy," Coover said. "It's been really received well. We don’t even know the limit of what we can do – The sky is the limit with this. These are things kids will remember forever."