May 22 08:01 PM

Giving sports a boost

Area volunteers dedicate time and effort in high school sports boosters clubs

Lori Jager, Delores Heim, Kim Jorgensen, Valerie Schultz, Maureen Lemons, Lori Campbell, Janie Lupo, Jodie Decker and Ann Folino, all members of the Imlay City Athletic Boosters, feed hungry sports fans from their concessions booth. photo by Randy Jorgensen.

January 09, 2008
There are the coaches, assistants, trainers, scorekeepers, referees, water boys and girls, cheerleaders, groundskeepers and fans in the stands. Besides the eager athletes, there are lots of other 'players' who make high school sports a reality. But more and more, local programs are relying on a small and very important group of supporters—athletic boosters.

In 2007, the Imlay City group marked 35 years and with other booster groups in the area, they're happy to reminisce on successes and wish for more productive years to come.

In Imlay City, the idea to create a support program for high school athletics came to Paul Bush, the school's athletic director, and Paul Hoisington in 1972.

"We made a few phone calls and there were 136 people at the first meeting," Hoisington said.

Doug Buike was named the group's first president.

Hoisington said that adding bathrooms onto the equipment building at the football field was one of their biggest feats. They hosted bingo calls at the American Legion and sold concessions at sporting events and the fairgrounds.

"We would sell from the stand and the athletes would carry pop and popcorn up and down the grandstands," onetime president Kay Pauly recalled.

"We wanted to involve the athletes as well as their parents and friends."

Pauly's motivation to help was her four children—Debbie, Andrew, Tom and Matt—who all participated in a variety of sports.

"It was just lots of fun," she said.

"I was always glad to help out with what was needed for equipment which the school's budgets couldn't allow for."

Current President Ann Folino says much of the boosters' activities and mission remains the same.

Concessions at sporting events is their main source of revenues. They dole out hot dogs, popcorn, pizza, nachos and drinks, but lots of time goes into just purchasing and hauling all their supplies to the school.

"It's worth it," Folino said.

The Capac Athletic Boosters purchased new uniforms for the varsity basketball team, including Joe Harvey, pictured here. photo by Kevin Kissane.
"It would be a sad football game without a hot dog."

Thanks to all of that good food the spectators gobble up, the boosters have made several notable purchases for the school's teams—a wind fence for the tennis courts, a scoreboard, a computerized football play program, pompons for cheerleaders, tournament costs for the equestrians and a $5,000 donation to develop the new baseball field.

Folino said they also continue to sponsor up to four scholarships for graduating seniors every year.

To ensure continued success, Folino said the booster club is in need of more members. Anyone, particularly if they have an up and coming athlete, would be welcomed.

To learn more, call the high school at 724-9810.

In Almont, the athletic boosters is a small group but with lots of hard work, they've managed to purchase scoreboards for the baseball, softball and soccer fields; secure new equipment for volleyball, football and wrestling; donate a new rubber floor for the fitness center, help buy uniforms and warm up suits and contribute to the school's 'pay-to-play' program.

"We're always looking for new members," parent Laura Bourgois said.

"Most of our monies are raised from the concessions stand at football games."

They also rely on donations from the community and small projects including the sale of caramel apples and school apparel.

Bourgois said although challenging, volunteering with the boosters is a great way to support student athletes, including her own children, over the year.

"I love the sports," Bourgois said.

"It's a way I can give back for the kids."

To learn more about becoming a booster, contact Bourgois at 798-8438.

In Dryden, the boosters' fundraisers have been far ranging. President Tony Anderson said they've hosted basketball tournaments, beer sales for the village's Fall Fest, craft shows, a golf outing and concessions.

"We have a new track, track equipment, new dugouts for the baseball and softball fields and new fencing at the diamonds and a watering system for the football and ball fields," Anderson.

"We pay for the hotel rooms for the state qualifiers in their respective sports. (We) purchased the uniforms for the football team this year."

They also lent a hand to the Hometown Baseball League by giving a backstop for the new ball diamond at Cardinal Field.

They're looking forward to building a new 'snack shack' and are in the midst of working with the school board to put up scoreboards at the high school ball fields.

"New members are more than welcome to our meeting held on the third Wednesday of each month," Anderson said.

To learn more, call the school at 796-2266.

In Capac, they're grateful for healthy concession stand profits. Treasurer Paula Pietrzak said business was up $3,000 from a year ago.

"We've been able to purchase new uniforms for the varsity basketball team, trophies for the teams and warm-up suits for the competitive cheer team," she said.

They also sell t-shirts and lanyards at varsity basketball games.

Working closely with Athletic Director Arnie VandeMark, Pietrzak said they're well aware of the athletes' needs as they arise.

"Athletic programs need the support of parents," Pietrzak said of her involvement with the boosters.

"It's just another way of giving to the kids financially and emotionally."

The booster club meets the first Monday of every month at the high school. To learn more about volunteering, contact the school at 395-4321.

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