Keeping politics out of the booster club
A booster club with no politics or infighting?
A booster club fundraising for the overall spirit of the school rather than the individual needs of the big-time sports?
It’s happening at Arrowhead High School (Wisconsin), and the school, athletic department and student-athletes are better off for it.
Booster club president Dawn Loke says Arrowhead’s athletic booster club works as a “facilitator,” and all funds raised by the group go directly back to the athletic department (through activities director Kevin Flegner) as a whole, rather than to individual teams. This allows the nine-person board to act for the overall good of the school, rather than cater and pander to parents of individual sports with their own agendas.
While this philosophy is outside the realm of most booster clubs, it falls directly in line with this program’s mission statement, which Loke says must be followed closely due to the group’s 501(c) status.
“We are a non-profit organization that supports existing programs at Arrowhead High School through the promotion of fellowship, communication and the fostering of school spirit among parents, players, coaches and the school community in general,” she says.
Major fundraising programs
Loke says the booster club has two main methods in raising funds to support the athletic department — membership drives and spirit wear sales.
In August, the club makes its membership push with families and businesses. In the past, members received tokens or gifts for their donations, but Loke says today people understand the mission and would rather have the money filtered back into the athletic program.
For the spirit wear, Loke says August is an important time for sales due to the influx of students registering for school as well as a new freshman class starting its adventure at Arrowhead. The booster club also sells spirit wear at various athletic events, such as football games, as well as several other evening events — many of these take place in the fall so people have access to spirit wear in time for homecoming, postseason play and the holidays.
A bonus for the booster club this year is the addition of accepting credit cards for purchase.
“This weighed on us for awhile,” Loke says. “So many people wanted to buy something but didn’t have enough cash or their checkbooks on them. Now, we have Visa and MasterCard capabilities with a minimal cost to us.”
The club also is exploring an online option for sales.
“It’s a possibility for us,” she says. “If we do online sales, we’ll offer a limited number of items. It could become unmanageable if there are too many options on a site.”
With the goal of promoting spirit within the entire school, the booster club doesn’t buy equipment or extras for certain sports. Loke says the club focuses on improving the spirit of Arrowhead within the school.
Recently, the booster club funded floor-to-ceiling trophy cases to house all the school’s state-championship and runner-up trophies. This past year, the booster club approached Flegner about having more of the school colors painted throughout the building, including a prominent “A” painted between the school’s two gyms.
One of the most important functions of the booster club is to fund five $1,000 scholarships per year for college-bound senior athletes in good standing.
“We’re proud to fund these generous scholarships for our hard-working athletes who put so much of their time and effort into the overall program throughout the year,” Loke says.
The scholarships, painting and trophy cases all fall into the idea of improving the school spirit in ways the administration inside Arrowhead’s walls may not be able to do on their own.
“These are the kind of projects that foster spirit within the school and, at the same time, probably could not be afforded by the school unless the booster club was involved,” Loke says.
Individual athletic teams do fundraise on their own at Arrowhead and the booster club does provide some support. A parent from each athletic team acts as a liaison between the squad, the booster club and the athletic office.
“We help coaches with some of their needs and provide them with ideas for fundraising. But, we don’t initiate any fundraising with the teams,” Loke explains.
A lawyer by trade, Loke, a mother of five, worked part-time as a study hall and lunch room supervisor recently to accommodate the fluctuating schedules of her children while also saving time for her booster-club duties. Despite not having to manage a huge board or referee political infighting among members, parents and coaches, Loke finds being the booster club president does pull a great deal of her time.
“For me, it’s a year-round job. We get a bit of a break in July but things ratchet up quickly in August with membership drives and spirit wear sales,” explains Loke, who says she hasn’t had a child in an Arrowhead sport for two years but has remained dedicated to the booster club.
“I’m keeping in touch with all our board members and liaisons through December, then we get a bit of a lull again in January and February. By March, we start closing the year strong as we are planning for the scholarships we provide to five athletes.”