Mary Drogmiller prepares for Friday nights like a diligent football coach. She double-checks her equipment: hot dogs, nachos and hot chocolate. She checks her roster of volunteers. She focuses on the drill: getting people in and out of line quickly.
Concessions to Drogmiller, and those who eat them, are second only to the football game.
“It’s the most important thing besides the players on the field,” she said.
Drogmiller has been running the concessions at Bowsher High School for about 14 years. Even after her second daughter, Katie, graduated in 2000, she didn’t stop.
“She and her husband have been involved in Bowsher long before I got here, even though their kids are long gone,” said Bowsher Principal Larry Black. “It couldn’t happen without her. She keeps everyone moving and makes sure all the volunteers are there. She is appreciated by me.”
Drogmiller got into the concession scene when her first daughter, Heather, began playing basketball. Her husband, Norm, started announcing for Bowsher around the same time. She also works as a secretary for Toledo Public Schools.
“I started volunteering because I wanted to become more involved and supportive of my girls,” she said. “We are here for the kids is the bottom line.”
The most popular items are grilled hot dogs and loaded nachos, and prices for concessions range from 75 cents to $2. As early as mid-September, people are asking for hot chocolate.
“People come and have to have brats and hot dogs and they aren’t happy unless they have it. We do grill it on a gas grill, which adds to the Friday scene,” she said.
If sales are a little slow, she makes some popcorn and the smells draws in people.
One mistake she made was offering too much variety. Instead of one flavor of Skittles, she offered several.
“That is one thing with a variety of stuff — by the time they get up there, still don’t know what they want.”
In addition to varsity football, Drogmiller runs concessions for freshman and junior varsity games, and during basketball season and track. She also runs concessions for the football league for grades five through eight.
Even though she’s not the mother of a football player or president of the boosters, she keeps her title as “the concession lady.”
Drogmiller even has a “code word” for when concession time rolls around each year.
“It is time to go out and play,” she said, laughing.
In the past decade, concessions have changed. Pizza is an old standby, but the introduction of slushes, ice cream bars and loaded nachos have been popular additions.
Her advice for aspiring concessionaires: “You need to be good at math and making change,” she said, “and you just need to not concentrate on one particular thing, if that makes sense.”