The reaction to the formation of the Eastwood Athletic Boosters has been “super positive,” organization president Kyle Wright said.
The club’s primary goal is to raise money for the district’s 20 high school and 12 middle school athletic teams.
The boosters had 128 members as of their monthly meeting Aug. 9.
The organization’s by-laws were adopted in March, and its officers were elected in April.
“The community really rallies around the sports programs, and the district, in general,” Wright said. “There’s a lot of people, when anything happens, who are behind Eastwood athletics. The support has been great, and we wouldn’t expect anything different.”
The organization meets the second Monday of every month, with the exception of July when there is no meeting. The meetings are held in the Eagles Nest.
The boosters have 501(C)(3) status, making the organization tax exempt.
‘Growth and outreach’
The booster officers have been busy spreading the word about the organization.
The organization will have a booth in the commercial tent at the Pemberville Free Fair Wednesday through Saturday. Memberships are $25. Memberships also are available at eastwoodboosters.com. Current memberships are good through the 2021-22 school year.
Wright spoke to Eastwood’s high school and middle school fall sports parents and athletes late last month.
“We’re in our outreach and growth stage,” Wright said. “We were very well received at those fall sports meetings, and we received several donations from people who wanted to donate just to support our cause.”
The boosters already have approximately $21,000 in the bank, including approximately $8,000 from this summer’s golf outing organized by Mick Foster and Chet Welch.
“I’m happy to say four months in, we have a little over $21,000, which is no surprise in this community because they support athletics,” Wright said.
The organization has completed one project already, the purchase of new mats for the west wall of the high school gym.
“We’re in the get up and running stage, the initial stages,” Wright said. “The projects will come. We have a lot of ideas, and we’re brainstorming. Right now, we want to set up the lines of communication, so the coaches know the proper protocols for approaching us when there is a need. Our goals have been to support Eastwood athletics where it’s needed. What that looks like, we don’t know exactly because it’s really dependent on the resources we obtain.
“One of the most important things, and I think there was some misconstruing was that if the athletic department doesn’t want to pay for something, they’re just going to send people to the boosters,” Wright added. “It’s not that at all. While we work in conjunction with Mr. Hill (athletic director Jeff Hill), it should be business as normal when coaches need things from the school. We’re a group of people who are passionate about Eastwood sports. When we see a need that is unfilled, we want to be there to help.”
Wright said the boosters will be starting a scholarship for graduating seniors each year. He expects 2-3 boys and 2-3 girls to receive the scholarships each year, although the criteria for the scholarships is still being finalized.
“We’re committed to that, beginning this school year,” Wright said. “We want to give them some sort of scholarship money, and it’s also an incentive for the parents of upperclassmen to join the boosters and get behind this.”
Wright also expects the organization to have tiered memberships, allowing its members to receive perks, based on the membership level they join.
Already this fall, the Eastwood athletic department and the boosters are allowing booster members to purchase specific seat locations for home football games at a higher price for the ticket. Members will be able to do the same for boys and girls basketball games.
“There are going to be perks for being a member,” Wright said. “This year, we kept (the membership cost) very affordable because we’re new, but we’ve seen what other schools are doing, and they’ve had success with the tiered memberships. Higher tiers get you more things like your name in the program. That’s something we plan to pursue in the near future.”
Reverse raffle/yearly banquet
The boosters might host a reverse raffle to raise money for the organization, but Wright wasn’t sure that would happen.
“We plan to have some kind of yearly banquet or fundraiser, but we don’t know if it’ll be a reverse raffle,” Wright said. “In the past, we’ve had the reverse raffle, and there’s been a lot of requests to bring that back.
“Coming out of COVID, and people not being able to do as many things in person, people are looking forward to getting together. We’d like to have an annual boosters event, but we don’t know what form it will take. We’ve been brainstorming that because it’s something we want to do.”
Wright also said one of the group’s long-term goals is simplify the fundraising for all Eastwood athletics.
“We know a lot of people are repeatedly asked to step up and donate, and that fact is not lost on us at all,” Wright said. “We appreciate that. If we grow this organization, the way we want to, we’d love to be coordinating a lot of those drives, so our coaches and student-athletes can do what they do best, and that’s hone their crafts, and not have to worry about raising money for uniforms and facilities. Once we get to the point where we’re able to take that worry away from them, that’s really our goal.”
The boosters were formed by Wright and former Eastwood head football coach Jerry Rutherford, who has since returned to the program as an assistant coach.
Wright and Rutherford originally met in December, 2019 to discuss the process of setting up the organization, but the COVID pandemic delayed the completion of the project by more than a year.
Wright, an attorney, is a 2005 graduate of Eastwood where he competed in football, soccer, and track and field. Wright and his wife, Liz, live in the Eastwood district with their 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.
“Jerry’s been really passionate about getting the boosters started,” Wright said. “The Eastwood district has given so much to him and his family, and he’s been passionate about giving back and starting the boosters. It was really easy to feel his passion and build off of it.
“Even though it was just the two of us early on, it’s been awesome to see so many others who share our passion for Eastwood athletics,” Wright said. “We’ve gotten a lot of people involved, and that’s been showing up in the early stages of forming this.”