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Lumber Company feeds fraternal bonds

Photo of the Lumber Company

Around JCSU, people talk about the Lumber Company—but until recently it had little to do with hardwood. The Lumber Company, a group of gridiron alumni, are famed for supporting JCSU football and providing some of the best tailgating to be found at the University’s Homecoming celebrations. Now, they’ve expanded their philanthropy to JCSU basketball and the entire athletics department.

Morton Copeland ’89, a former linebacker, spoke candidly about the group’s past and their plans for the future.

“As teammates, we formed a unique bond that has carried over to this day,” Copeland said.

The Lumber Company name was given to the group in the mid-to-late 1980s because of their hard-hitting defense.

“We laid the wood to people,” Copeland said with a laugh. “We worked hard on the field and when we left, we retained a bond of brotherhood.”

After graduating, the men regularly came together. The biggest base live here in Charlotte but members in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and other states returned for Homecoming and the CIAA Tournament. When they couldn’t, they contributed monetarily to fundraisers and events year-round. 

The tailgating tradition started simply: a few hamburgers and hotdogs. Some members brought grills, then a tent. Tailgating with the Lumber Company became a huge hit, one of the main draws outside of the Homecoming game itself, because they turned no one away. Their tent became so popular, they began holding tailgates every year, even at regular season games. Since JCSU began holding the MasterBull Griller contests during Homecoming in 2013, the Lumber Company has taken the top spot in the ribs or burgers category every year. The crew’s ribs were so good that they won the inaugural “MasterBull Griller Champion” title.

The crew has decided to lend their grilling skills to support events during the seasons of other JCSU sports.

“Eventually, we all recognized that we needed to do more to give back to our school and support other sports besides football,” Copeland said. “A few members also played basketball, so we decided to support that program.”

Head Basketball Coach Stephen Joyner Sr. and Assistant Basketball Coach Mark Sherrill met with the crew and invited the Lumber Company to JCSU’s basketball alumni reunion during the game against St. Augustine’s, on Jan. 20, 2018.  The initial goal was to feed about 100 people, but the Lumber Company ended up feeding 150 basketball players, cheerleaders, alumni and their families.

“The players were happy to have a home-cooked meal, but we just wanted to say thank you,” Copeland said. “We love our school and each other and take a great sense of pride in our university. We want the new generations to have the same love, support and experience we did.”

Luckily it happened to be a recruitment weekend for JCSU Football, so those coaches and their recruits ate as well.

“They saw a bunch of old football players tailgating for the basketball team,” Copeland said proudly. “For student-athletes considering our school, seeing that kind of family unity does make a difference.”

The Lumber Company Tailgating Crew is now under the umbrella of the 100 Club. Donations to the 100 Club can be made in the Lumber Company’s name, and 100 percent of those gifts support JCSU Athletics.

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