Bluefield College received a boost to its new football program, Monday, October 11, in the form of a Founders-level gift to the Rams Football Booster Club from the Ramey Auto Group, a longtime supporter of community athletics.
Expressing their support and excitement for college football in Bluefield, representatives of the Ramey Auto Group — Jimmy Ramey, Jr., Robert Ramey, Jonathan Sheets, Brandon Sheets, Mark Brewster and Tammie Lucas — presented a $5,000 check to Bluefield College officials, making Ramey the 45th member of the Rams Football Booster Club since the school announced the return of the sport in June of this year.
“This is a great way for us to give back to the community, since the community gives so much to us,” said Jimmy Ramey. “We’re always trying to support local sports programs, and this (football) is an exciting opportunity at Bluefield College. It will give local kids the opportunity to participate in college football when otherwise they would not have been able to.”
Bluefield College formally announced the return of football this summer after an extensive four-year-long feasibility study and a tremendous show of support from alumni and friends. The school will begin club play in the sport next fall and intercollegiate action in the fall of 2012, some 70 years after the last gridiron team.
“We’re always looking for ways to support the community, particularly community sports programs,” said Robert Ramey. “We support Little League and high school sports, so we figured why not college sports. We think football is an exciting opportunity for Bluefield College, and we wanted to be a part of it.”
Shortly after announcing the return of football, Bluefield College hired Mike Gravier, a coach with a history of launching new football programs and a track record of developing players both on and off the field, to revive the sport.
“It’s encouraging to see prominent members of the community, like the Ramey Auto Group, not only excited about the renewal of our football program, but willing to step forward and assist us in its development,” said Coach Gravier.
The Ramey Auto Group represents eight auto dealerships and service centers and hundreds of employees from from Princeton and Beckley, West Virginia, to Tazewell and Richlands, Virginia, to Johnson City, Tennessee.
“We’re so excited to have the Ramey Auto Group support Bluefield College football,” said Ruth Blankenship, BC’s vice president for advancement. “They have been extremely generous to provide financial resources to athletic programs in the community, and now we’re glad they are part of the athletic program at Bluefield College as a Founders-level member of the Football Booster Club.”
Forty-five BC supporters have joined the Rams Football Booster Club since its inception this year, including 14 members who are considered Founders with a gift of at least $5,000. The Football Booster Club is designed to provide the college with the funds it will need to field a team beginning next fall.
“This is something Mr. (Jimmy) Ramey (Sr.) wanted to do,” said Jonathan Sheets about the Ramey Auto Group’s gift to BC football. “We have a lot of employees and a lot of his family that graduated from Bluefield College, and we just feel really fortunate to contribute to a program like this. Any type of athletics, from pee-wee football to collegiate football, we’re just happy to be part of it.”