Saturday, March 8, 2014

Windham-Raymond Athletic Boosters searching for new ideas - By Michelle Libby

The Windham-Raymond Athletic Boosters is a large organization run by only a handful of volunteers. They raise money year round to support athletics in a way that is above and beyond what is in the athletic director’s budget through a car show in September, a craft fair in November, Summerfest, Relay for Life, Special Olympics and homecoming events. 
The more than 30-year-old club is in danger of losing some of its fundraising events for lack of participation from its several hundred members. 

Many of the people in charge, like president Dan McGowan, no longer have children who make up the 1,500 athletes in the RSU. “We need leadership. Some of us would like to step down and continue to help in other ways,” said McGowan. “We are looking for parents to step forward to run the boosters.”
Photo by Stephanie Coffiin
The group admits they are not looking for someone to walk in day one and volunteer to be president, but they would like someone to make some phone calls or join one of the committees. “Three people come to the car show meetings,” McGowan said.  

McGowan is not the only board member to have athletes who have graduated. Laura Begley the treasurer no longer has students in the school system. When asked why they stay, they said for the athletes.
“A lot of people still don’t know what the boosters do,” said secretary Elaine Hurzig. “Maybe they don’t realize all we do.” 

In many schools each sport has their own booster organization, but Windham is unique that all money raised is equally divided by all of the sports programs. At the beginning of each season, the Boosters give each coach a $500 enrichment check to spend on something for the team. That totals $12,500 each year, which is thousands more than the car show made last year. 

“A unified boosters in the way to go. A smaller program reaps the benefit of a group like this. They’re all paddling in the same direction,” said athletic director Rich Drummond. “There is a great model here. At this point the old blood is ready to go. They’ve served their time and served it well.”

“It’s for the kids. We have a great school We have top notch fields, nice snack shack and when people come they are in awe of what we have,” said McGowan. 

The boosters gave money for the bleachers at Saint Joseph’s College pool for the swim teams, cheering mats, scholarship expenses and trophies for senior athletes, athletic banquets three times a year, flowers for senior parents on senior nights and athletic cords for eligible senior student-athletes. 

“Over the years it’s been really big ticket items that I can’t budget for,” said Drummond. The athletic budget is $135,000, only two percent of the total RSU14 budget, according to Drummond. 

“Somebody’s paying for all that. It’s the boosters,” Hurzig said. “Sign up to volunteer to be a part of the solution.” 

“We’re looking for fresh minds,” said Nancy Graves. 

“One mom loves to work the cash register and writing on the white board. You laugh and joke. You raise money,” said concessions chair Wendy Pesce. She would like to see more volunteers so parents of athletes can watch their children play. “I missed my son’s only touchdown of the season because I was in the concession stand,” Pesce said.

There are 20 chairs in the Alumni board room at Windham High School. Hurzig said she has never seen all of the chairs filled, but she’d love to. The group meets the first Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. except in the summer. 

“Come to the meeting and voice concerns, see where we’re headed and where we want to be,” McGowan encouraged.

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