Bathroom MirrorBy Dan Viall, Blue Valley West Dad

As a dad of two teenage girls (8th and 5th graders), I’m always looking for fun ways to connect with them individually. My oldest is wired a lot like me (sorry mom!) so it’s pretty easy for me to connect with her and find fun and meaningful things for us to do together. She’s curious, driven, talkative, opinionated, and was fortunate enough to find her two big passions (martial arts and entrepreneurship) at an early age.

My youngest, however, is my mystery child. She’s introverted, imaginative, empathetic, and free-spirited, so what she likes today may not be what she’s into tomorrow. So it’s always been a bit harder for me to find meaningful ways to connect with her 1:1. And because she’s more reserved, I’m never quite sure if our time together is truly resonating with her.

In the summer of 2021, I started connecting with more business guys locally for work and kept hearing about this thing called Father’s Club. After what seemed like the 5th or 6th quality dad including Dave Swob, John Hinman, Grady Hawley and others told me I should get involved, I signed up to start doing stuff with Clay Norkey’s group of awesome Blue Valley West dads.

Football Concession Stand!

While we do all the other Father’s Club stuff like happy hours and Fist Bumps for Food, our group of BV West dads also gets to handle all concessions for every home football game. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so the first game I just signed up myself. When I got there, I saw an awesome group of quality dads jamming to classic rock, serving with their own kids, high-fiving their kids’ friends at the window, slingshotting hotdogs into the student section, giving free coffee to the security team and just having a great time connecting with each other and the steady stream of kids, parents, and staff.

Bathroom Mirror Bathroom Mirror

So the next game I invited my youngest to come serve with us, and before we had even left the stadium that first night she was talking non-stop about “Crazy Tim” and “Mr. Tony” and asked if we could do it again soon. She likes to mix it up each game, but her favorite role is the commercial popcorn station (a never-ending job!) When Danny Mayer loudly proclaimed her the “Popcorn Queen” the last game of the season, two huge dimples and a giant smile came out.

The Note on the Mirror…

The next morning, I got up, and found this note on my bathroom mirror… “I like doing concessions with you!”

So thank you to Clay, Kevin, Mr. Tony, Danny, Crazy Tim, Todd, Jaye and so many others for helping me create a fun and simple way to connect with my daughter, meet a great group of guys, and give back to our community. If you’re still sitting on the sidelines, come out and get in the game with us!

Bathroom Mirror Bathroom Mirror

By Andrew Kneisler, Blue Valley Southwest High School Chapter Co-Chair

A Father and a FencepostDuring a recent men’s retreat with a dozen men, I spent some quality time around a campfire sharing. I could hear fish flipping in the background, as I shared my story about my life with other fathers. The analogy that kept coming up was an image of a fence line marked by “fenceposts”. These symbolic fenceposts included people, events and places that held me and directed my life — making me into the man I am today. Looking back on each fencepost I noticed how faith was tying the fenceposts together to shore up all these moments and to bring me to where I am today. 

I was honored to be known by these men, as we took turns sharing each independently about our own fencepost stories. I was excited and comforted to hear each man highlight their own father in their fencepost stories. Whether good or bad, “my dad…” was a consistent theme as men shared their stories that night. 

My dad passed away in 2019. His lasting effects are still impacting the way I live today, as a father to my four kids and as a person in relationship with those kids — Some good and some bad.   

The Enabler

I rarely wished I had a different dad, but I did at times become angry that he didn’t act differently. What I have discovered is that my dad was the classic “enabler”. In my teenage years, my mom was a severe alcoholic and her behavior was supported, re-enforced and allowed by my dad. That is why in the world of addiction, my dad’s behavior is called “enabling”. As a child, I saw it as loving and learned a version of what I thought is “love”. Today, I’m still affected by this “Dad’s perspective” and it continues to spread as it affects my relationships.

It affects all relationships, even the way I parent. Although I stopped my drinking in 2003, I thought I killed the disease, but the enabling continued to transcend into my behaviors, because it was what my dad had modeled for me.

I didn’t get to choose the father I have nor sometimes be the father I want to be. 

A Father and a FencepostI have found that being surrounded by men with similar failures and victories from their own fathers, coupled with sharing how those experiences impact our lives today, makes me want to father my kids differently.

My involvement with Father’s Club is an attempt to get involved in the lives of my kids and surround myself with other men who can help impact my kids in a greater way than I can on my own. Through doing so, I’ve experienced not just a great impact on my kids, but a great impact on my own life. My hope is that I can give back what this organization has given me.

I believe it’s easier for dads to live a life of quiet isolation and feel temporarily “safe” from having their weaknesses exposed. Instead, I’ve found living a life of integration with other like-minded men can help hold together “those moments” and help make a life worth living

And maybe… just maybe, these fathers can be “a fencepost” in my kids’ stories someday.

A Father and a Fencepost

Fist Bumps 4 Food Training CampOver the years, The Father’s Club has welcomed students at several high schools with food and a word of encouragement. It has become a flagship activity for us at our local high schools. We’ve given this event several names over the years. We have finally landed on Fist Bumps 4 Food (FB4F).

With so many new dads getting engaged with The Father’s Club, we want to take a moment and provide a training video for Dads so they’re properly prepared the next time they participate in a FB4F. We’re confident this video will properly prepare Dads for future FB4F events.

The Father’s Club

Vince StephensIn the summer of 2018, a normal everyday dad had a longing in his soul. His imagination began to churn with various ideas. He felt called to reach out to another man. A man he had never met. With tremendous courage, he opened his heart and shared his vision and passion for doing more for his own kid and the kids he hung out with at high school.

A few weeks later, a group of eight men gathered. Once again, he courageously shared his heart with a group of men he hardly knew. Every man gathered was moved. Every man shared their own story. In that moment, every dad around the table was vulnerable, sharing similar struggles, desiring to be fully known and fully loved.

The Birth of The Father’s Club

It was on that warm August night, around a table of dads who did not know each other very well, that the Father’s Club was born.

We take a brief moment to celebrate and thank Vince Stephens. If it was not for his courageous and humble spirit, the Father’s Club would not be impacting 18 high schools, over 1,400 dads, thousands of kids, and numerous communities.

On March 25th, Vince celebrated his 60th Birthday. Vince has no desire to be recognized. He is just a dad struggling to find his way. We want to thank Vince for his passion and vision for creating simple ways for dads to be intentional with each other, kids and the communities we are called to serve. Vince, you are one heck of a good looking 60 year old man. We love you brother.

– The Father’s Club

By Todd Milner, Board Member/Director of Campus Development for Father’s Club

There are so many fathers with so many chapters that we know there are a ton of stories to be shared. In this video, Todd Milner walks through the simple process of recording a 60 second video and sending it to the Father’s Club team. We will use that video as part of our weekly storytelling.

So grab your iPhone and tell us what is going on in your life, your community and in your Father’s Club chapter at your high school. We want to hear your stories! And if you are having trouble getting it to work, reach out and we will be there for you!

By Mike Rothwell, Board Member/Director of Community Partners for Father’s Club

Father's Club Saturday Morning Workout“Hey, you should come check out the Father’s Club Workout on Saturday mornings. It has really been a game changer for so many. We work out together, develop relationships, and encourage one another along the journey.”

“Sounds great. How do I get plugged in?”

“Well, it’s quite simple really. First off, it’s totally free. All you do is show up. We meet at 7:00 am for an outdoor workout, and then we grab a quick coffee afterwards. For some reason, it helps men get their day started right and prepares them to be leaders at home, at work and within the community.”

“Wait a second. Did you say outdoors at 7:00 am on a Saturday? No way dude. That is way too early on the one day I get to sleep in each week. Plus, you know it’s February in Kansas City. It is freezing cold outside. I’m too old to get up that early. I need my sleep man. I’m not in shape. I need to lose some weight before I come out to work out and embarrass myself in front of other dudes.”

Sound familiar?

Father's Club Saturday Morning Workout MapThe Father’s Club exists to create ways for dads to be intentional in engaging with kids, other dads, and the greater community they are called to serve. Often, dads find themselves lost and lonely in the pursuit of validation. One way we can battle this cultural tendency is to be stronger together. To live life in community with one another.

So in 2022, we launched a new Saturday Morning Workout for men to create intentionality around battling the cultural tendency of isolation. Now, on Saturday mornings, at 7:00 am, every dad (sons included-good luck) are invited to join us, do something challenging together, and lock arms in the battle.

We launched on January 8, 2022 at the Blue Valley Riding Neighborhood Pool. We meet at this location and head over to the Blue Valley High School Football Field. The culture of the workout is to spend 15 minutes warming up with an emphasis on flexibility, 30 minutes of a boot camp style workout, and finish up with 15 minutes of abdominal work and stretching.

We hold true to the fact that proper form is vital to ensuring we remain free from injury.

As a result, there is no shame in modification or fitness level. We will leave no man behind, and we will leave no man where we found them. 

No matter who you are, or where you are in the journey, you are welcome every Saturday morning. So let’s give this away to all men in our community, and invite them out for a lower impact workout where they will feel welcome and encouraged to come back out and get a little bit better than the week before. 

Mike Rothwell, Director of Community Partners for Father’s Club

By Brad Holdhusen, CEO/Board Member/Chapter Chair for Father’s Club

It was a freezing cold day on January 19, 2020. I was meandering through the aroma of good barbeque at the AFC Championship pre-game tailgate atmosphere out at Arrowhead when my ears locked into some good red dirt music. As I moved closer, I recognized Reckless Kelly blasting at this Taj Mahal-like tailgate hosted by the guys from Hooray Grills. Like a moth to a flame, I approached with wide eyes and a grin on my face…

Zach PedersonIt was that day that not only did I witness our Kansas City Chiefs WIN the AFC Championship over the Titans, but I had the opportunity to meet my now good friend, Zach Pederson, for the first time.

Don’t know Zach?  You need to… Let me give you just a glimpse as to why I chose to do a blog spotlight on this dude.

Soon after that January day in 2020 when Zach and I first met, I had the opportunity to share my passion behind The Father’s Club with him over beers at Tanners. Zach was all in – he loved it! Since that day, Zach, Owner of Rock Road Creative, has (for next to nothing) shared his company and his talents with The Father’s Club. This VIDEO is just one example of him sharing his time and talent with our organization as he helped spotlight The Father’s Club at our annual Mission Cup golf tournament that we host every year in late August. Additionally, Zach and his dad generously donated a duck hunt for our 2021 Mission Cup silent auction last year as they agreed to host a dad and his son or daughter out at their waterfowl property this month.

Beyond running Rock Road Creative, Zach has had his hands in many things over the years as he’s amassed a great network of respected business and community leaders. Zach calls Overland Park home where he lives with his wife Megan and their 3 kids, Penelope (age 5), Hank (age 4) and Ford (age 2).

Zach, Thanks for your partnership with The Father’s Club. We look forward to many more years of intentional engagement as your family’s roots grow deeper in this community. We’re grateful to have you as a part of it!

Business Owners: Looking for a great video, photo, website development, social media agency? Reach out to Zach and his team here:
Zach Pederson, Owner
Rock Road Creative
(913) 915-6137

The 2020 Mission Cup Video Zach Helped Us With

By Doug McIntyre, Chapter Chair of Blue Valley North

From the first day of school to Home Coming at Blue Valley North High School, Father’s Club has been making student’s days in 2021.

Partnering with the Administration, Father’s Club kicked off the school year with a surprise picnic for the students  outside with yard games, cookies, and Dad DJ crushing the tunes.

Father's Club: Blue Valley North Cookie Day Father's Club: Blue Valley North Cookie Day

Home Coming festivities and the Parade were back this year and so was The Father’s Club… building on traditions.

In addition to building the bon fire, managing parking lot safety, this year saw Matt Roening, Matt Textor, and Chris Whigham host our first ever Father’s Club parade entry with Big Red and Little Red. In years past, two student clubs, GSA and the Diversity Club didn’t have the resources to host their own float. Father’s club partnered with RideNow Powersports to make their day.

I want to say thank you to Father’s Club for making my day yesterday. I am so grateful of you all for putting that big of a smile on so many kids faces. It was definitely a wonderful day!
Sheryl Stein, Club sponsor

Father's Club - Parade Entry Father's Club - Parade Entry

By Todd Milner, Board Member/Director of Campus Development for Father’s Club

There’s a saying with Father’s Club members coined by our CEO, Brad Holdhusen a few years ago. It goes something like this…

“Dads, just grab a shovel. We will tell you where to dig the hole.”
Brad Holdhusen

BVSW Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel AwardWhat Brad was trying to communicate in very simple terms that most dads would understand is that we don’t want to make your involvement in Father’s Club complex or confusing. Just show up, and we’ll have it all planned out for you. We just need you to show up!

What the leaders of Father’s Club have learned in just three short years around how to get dads to show up, get engaged, and be intentional is that we need to keep it simple. As simple as just grabbing a shovel and digging a hole. As you might imagine, it didn’t take long for many of us to latch on to this statement. We repeat it at pretty much every board and chapter meeting. Fast forward to a few months ago… We liked the concept so much that we decided to adopt the words and turn it into an award.

The Shovel Award was designed to recognize and be given out to dads who consistently show up, get engaged and demonstrate how to be intentional with their kids, their families and their community! The first recipient of The Shovel Award was Tom Herzog, board member and one of the founding members. You can read that blog here. Tom shares his thoughts on  receiving the award.

BVSW Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel Award BVSW Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel Award

The Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel Award

BVSW Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel AwardThe Blue Valley Southwest (BVSW) Chapter wanted to recognize and honor a special dad by naming the The Shovel Award at BVSW the “Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel Award”  in honor of Chris Mitchell. Chris, an awesome BVSW dad, exemplified what it means to be an engaged, an intentional and a committed father to his family, his lovely wife Stephanie, his daughters Cara Allie & Kaitlin, their school BVSW and their community.

Chris showed up consistently and quietly, always involved in any activity Father’s Club would host at BVSW. Chris was the host of “Late Night with Dads”, involved with every Chicken Biscuit event held, proudly walked the halls on Fridays during lunch with other dads taking time out of his day and week to always “show up”!

Sadly, Chris is no longer with us, passing away this past July after facing a long and hard fought battle with pancreatic cancer. Again, to honor Chris and his legacy, we are calling the The Shovel Award at BVSW the “Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel Award”.

Chris’s legacy will live on in the halls of BVSW, in the community and in the ranks of dads at Father’s Club for generations to come. It cannot be said enough that Chris Mitchell was a perfect example of an engaged, intentional, loving and committed father who always “showed up!” Chris, my friend, your smiling face, caring personality and “show up” attitude will be sorely missed!

BVSW Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel Award BVSW Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel Award

I am happy and honored to announce that Charles Dahm will be the first recipient of the Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel Award at BVSW!

BVSW Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel Award - Charles Dahm BVSW Mitchell Strong Memorial Shovel Award - Charles Dahm

Charles has served on the BVSW Father’s Club leadership team since its inception in January of 2019. Charles continues to serve and lead the Father’s Club Chapter at BVSW in all the same ways Chris did. Charles has also served on the PTO committee for the last 3 years working hard to connect PTO ideas and needs with the ranks of dads at BVSW!

Congratulations Charles!

I am proud to call you my friend and so grateful for your dedication, intentionality and “show up” attitude! You were the obvious choice for this award and more importantly the dad at BVSW who deserves the recognition and honor!

By John Hinman, Board Member for Father’s Club

Father's Club - Randy Bratton Father's Club - Randy Bratton

Randy Bratton was born in Starkville, MS, then raised in and around Memphis, TN, is a lover of country music, has a trace of red neck running thru his veins, is a man with good old southern roots, has a massive servant heart, is a great husband and family man, and of course is a diehard Mississippi State fan. Being a fan of MSU he has died hard often, but this year he witnessed their first National Championship, in any sport, in baseball. It was great watching his excitement basking in the glory of this accomplishment.

Father's Club - Randy Bratton Father's Club - Randy Bratton

Randy is married to Marlo and they have three kids Rhodes, Allie and Abby.

After growing up and spending most of his life in the Memphis area, Randy and Marlo decided it was time for a change and moved their family to the Kansas City area in 2013 and we met shortly after and became close friends. Randy and his family have been a true blessing to this community from the day they arrived. Randy is one of those special people that everyone needs to know. Randy is fueled by his faith, family, friendships and community. He is always willing to jump in and help out wherever needed. His positive spirit brings out the best in everyone around him. He is always available, willing to serve, willing to give a friend a hand, is compassionate, and loves to have a good time.

Father's Club - Randy Bratton Father's Club - Randy Bratton

Father’s Club Founding Member

Randy is one of the founding nine members of The Father’s Club and has put in many hours to help this organization grow. Randy serves this organization as a board member and is the director of campus growth. Randy has played a significant role, leading the charge, spreading the mission of this organization resulting in 14 campus high school chapters since the inception of The Father’s Club in August of 2018. Randy is the epitome of the saying “pick up a shovel and dig a hole”. Randy simply gets it done.

Father's Club - Randy Bratton Father's Club - Randy Bratton

We are so thankful to have Randy on the leadership team. Personally, I’m proud to be able to call this man brother and friend. He has truly enriched my life during the years we have known each other.

Do YOU want to get involved in Father’s Club? Start right here!

Following is the list of high schools that currently have a Father’s Club Chapter:

1. Blue Valley
2. Blue Valley Southwest
3. Blue Valley West
4. Blue Valley North
5. Blue Valley Northwest
6. Shawnee Mission East
7. Shawnee Mission South
8. Olathe East
9. Olathe South
10. Olathe West
11. Gardner Edgerton
12. Springhill
13. Heritage Christian
14. Kansas City Christian Academy