LUCKEY — Eastwood High School and Eastwood Middle School athletics soon will have an additional source of funding.
The formation of the Eastwood Athletic Boosters is almost complete.
The organization’s by-laws were adopted at its monthly meeting March 8, and its officers are expected to be elected in April. The club’s primary goal will be to raise money for the district’s 20 high school and 12 middle school athletic teams.
“We need it. Every school you look at has one,” said Jerry Rutherford, who is responsible for the forming of the organization.
Rutherford has been a teacher and coach at the high school since 1981. He was the varsity head football coach for 35 years, retiring after the 2016 season. He took a year off and then returned to the program as an assistant coach, serving under his son and head coach Craig Rutherford.
The organization’s other main objective is to promote and support Eastwood’s high school and middle school athletic teams.
“Every school you look at has a booster club,” said Rutherford, who teaches physical education at the high school. “There’s money that needs to be raised for the athletic program. I truly believe a school needs to have an athletic booster program. Everyone agrees with that.”
Rutherford said the timing is perfect for Eastwood to start a booster club because the district has the people and the financial resources to be successful.
“Having a booster club is easier said than done,” Rutherford said. “You still have to find people who are willing to be the officers and are willing to fundraise and do the things that need to be done. Right now, Eastwood has the people who are willing and excited to go out and raise some funds for the athletic department. That’s the key.”
The athletic department is primarily funded by income from ticket and concession sales, and from teams working in the food tent at the Pemberville Free Fair, Rutherford said.
Rutherford said the additional funding from the boosters is even more important this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic which has dramatically reduced attendance.
“We need to understand this is a booster club that wants to help all athletics at Eastwood,” Rutherford said. “No sport or program has precedence over another. It’s for everyone. It’s to benefit all athletes at Eastwood High School and Eastwood Middle School, and help our students get the best things we can give them. Hopefully, no one will be in need of something that we can’t come up with.”
Even though the organization is still forming, Mick Foster raised more than $4,000 for the club last summer with a golf outing.
“That was huge, so we have some money in the account,” Rutherford said.
Reverse raffles are a popular fundraiser for booster clubs.
“There are numerous things a booster club can do to raise money,” Rutherford said. “Right now, we don’t have any plans. Once we get the by-laws adopted and board elected, the board can start planning on what it wants to do.”
The boosters also received approximately $28,000 from Andrew Hemminger and Brian Sabo, who recently held a fundraiser for the weight room.
How the money will be spent
Rutherford said the money raised by the organization can be used for both small and big projects, but the group has no specific plans as of now. The decisions will be made by the athletic director, and the booster club board and its members, Rutherford said, adding coaches can submit ideas for how the money can be spent.
“It’ll be a collaborative process between what the athletic director feels is needed at that time and what the board feels needs to be funded at that time,” Rutherford said. “Right now, we don’t have any plans on what we want to do. As we get going, I’m sure the board will come up with plans for what they want to do.”
Rutherford said one short-term priority is a membership drive for the 2021-22 school year after the by-laws are adopted and the board members are elected.
Rutherford said the formation of the Eastwood Athletic Boosters is not designed to replace any of the fundraisers already held by any of the school’s teams.
“Many of the programs have their own fundraising already, so we don’t want to step on anyone who has things established. That’s not our purpose,” Rutherford said. “We’re not looking to take over what anyone is already doing. The whole idea is to financially help the athletic department with fundraisers that aren’t being tapped right now.”
Board, meeting details
The boosters will meet the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Eagles Nest at the high school. There will be no meeting in July each year, and the annual meeting will be held in May of each year.
The board of directors will have seven members — president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and three at-large positions. All head coaches and assistant coaches are not allowed to be board members. Each position is a two-year term, but there are no term limits.
Persons interested in running for the board positions should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We need people to step up, and those people are out there,” Rutherford said. “I believe there are people out there who are willing to step up and take on these leadership roles. That’s our next step.
“The people and the money are out there,” Rutherford added. “I truly believe people really want to help out and be involved. You just have to ask, whether it’s with their time or financially. This will end up being a strong organization.”
The organization already has a web site, and Facebook and Twitter accounts.
How it came about
Rutherford first started planning for the organization as soon as the 2019 football season ended. He met with 2005 Eastwood graduate and Perrysburg attorney Kyle Wright on Dec. 4, 2019 to discuss the process of setting up the organization.
Wright competed in football, soccer, and track and field at Eastwood.
“Kyle’s really been a big help, especially with his experience in non-profits, and helping us get tax-exempt status,” Rutherford said. “But there have been a lot of people who have helped get this project going.”
The boosters have 501(C)(3) status, making it tax exempt.
The formation of the club was delayed by the pandemic because Rutherford didn’t want to form the group through virtual meetings. Once the weight room club fundraiser was held late last year, Rutherford decided to move forward.
“I really wanted to get everything done last spring, but the pandemic shut everything down,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford said Eastwood originally had a booster club in the 1960s, but the organization was dissolved in the early 2000s. Several attempts to restart the club during the last decade were unsuccessful.
Eastwood had the Community Athletic Project which oversaw the building of an all-weather track at the football stadium, along with restrooms, lights, bleachers and a new press box. Once the project was completed, CAP was dissolved almost a decade ago.
Once the club’s by-laws and officers are completed, Rutherford said he’ll step away from the organization.
“My only goal was to get it started,” Rutherford said. “l’ll be involved as a community member, and I’ll help when they ask me, but this isn’t my group. I know there will be plenty of people who be taking on the leadership roles.”
And Rutherford is looking forward to seeing the result of the organization. “Everyone’s excited about it,” Rutherford said. “Everyone realizes a school like Eastwood needs to have an athletic booster club. This is a good time to get it going. It’s going to be successful.”