Boosters enriching Roughriders
By Kevin Dye
With the spiraling costs associated with athletics and athletic equipment, it can be challenging for school districts to upgrade and improve their facilities for student athletes without the help of the community.
Jefferson Local Schools has the good fortune of having an active booster organization that fundraises on behalf of the district. Their contributions have a lot to do with the athletic achievement that takes place on the field, court and diamond.
At the recent school board meeting, several donations were accepted from the West Jefferson Athletic Boosters, who donated nearly $20,000 for specific equipment to help the district’s athletic programs. The group donated: $5,200 for new cheer mats; $5,000 for a softball scoreboard; $5,000 for football reconditioning; $1,000 for material to build a storage unit; $2,591 to provide half the cost of a new John Deere utility gator; $900 for half of the cost of golf memberships for six student golfers; and $300 for golf driving range fees.
“We are very grateful to the athletic boosters for these generous donations and the work they do,” superintendent William Mullet said. “The results speak for themselves as they provide donations for our facilities, new uniforms and other equipment. It is all attributed to the efforts of these fine folks. We have such wonderful facilities thanks to the West Jefferson Athletic Boosters.”
The West Jefferson Athletic Boosters is a sub-group of the Roughrider Club. School board president Dave Harper said the group plays an important role in the success of the district’s athletic program and he should know best. Harper is not only a current member of the Roughrider Club, but a past president of the organization as well.
“We feed off the Roughrider Club and the athletic boosters section,” Harper said. “The issue is we understand and know the school needs support from outside organizations. There are real needs like the Gator and athletic equipment and we are really looking at community support to help.”
Harper said that the West Jefferson Athletic Boosters know what fundraising events are successful. They try to do the best job with those traditional events, so there is not the constant strain of going to the community for donations. Activities such as spaghetti dinners at Ann and Tony’s Restaurant, golf outings and other such programs are ways for the community to get involved and help Roughrider athletics.
“We try to key on the same activities each year so we are not nickel-and-dime-ing the public,” Harper said. “We have activities that we know will bring in specific amounts of donations and we try to make those more successful each year.”
Harper said it is a small core of about 14 dedicated individuals that are in the West Jefferson Athletic Boosters, and they handle most of the fundraising activities. The Roughrider Club as a whole has about 300 members with two different levels of membership. The Brown membership is the basic level. Each member’s name is in a drawing at each game. If their name is drawn, they receive their dues back and a Roughrider decal. The Gold level, in addition to those benefits, receives five free passes to any home athletic event. All Roughrider members also have a vote to chose those who are inducted into the Roughrider Hall of Fame.
The West Jefferson Athletic Boosters started back in 1958, when a group of 12 fathers approached then head football coach Gene Keel with the interest in helping the athletic program.
The group still operate by the by-laws that were originally set back then. They help with the Fall Sports Program, football concessions, 50/50 raffles at games and the Alumni Football Reunion each fall.
Some of their more visible accomplishments include the athletic field house, renovation of the visitors stands in the football stadium and the press box, the Hall of Fame Wall and the Roughrider entrance to the athletic field complex.
The current officers for the group are president Kenny Love, vice president Jerry Doran, treasurer Roger Jester and secretary Jim Rinaldi.
Booster meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the high school.
The group is always looking for new members to join and help them with their goals of assisting West Jefferson athletics.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Roughrider Club and the West Jefferson Athletic Boosters you can contact athletic director Shawn Buescher at (614) 879-7681 for more information.
“We all work together as a team to support the athletic department at West Jefferson,” Harper said.