Happy birthday, Glenwood Booster Club

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

As the Glenwood Booster Club prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Pat Ross, the booster’s club first president that many years ago, can still recall the very first purchase the fledgling club made in 1984.

The 10-station, Universal Dynamic Variable Resistance weight machine cost $6,515, it required Glenwood Transit to ship all the way from Cedar Rapids and filled about a quarter of the weight room.

But that complex piece of machinery isn’t really what Ross recalls most. How the club paid for it still makes Ross chuckle more than two decades later.

“We bought it on payments,” said Ross.

That weight machine may be gone, and with it the more than $300 a month the Glenwood Booster Club paid for it over three years, but the sentiment and dedication it represents carries on. The booster club has donated more that $200,000 in equipment, uniforms and support to Glenwood High and Middle School’s many athletic programs in its 25 years.

And the club has no appearance of slowing down, said Lisa Reinert, who along with husband Tim, have headed up the club for the last two years.

“We have a fantastic group of parents that volunteer at the golf tournament, the auction, the chicken dinner — we don’t have to go far to have people help out,” she said.

The club holds a half-dozen events a year to boost membership and raise money for the club.

“They’ve done a lot,” said Reinert of the booster club’s impact the last 25 years. “They’ve really done well and grown so much.”

The school previously had a booster club, once dubbed the Ram Backers, but that faded out in the late 1970s.

“They used to feed the football team down at the fire station, but, then they faded out through the years and then they brought it back officially as the Glenwood Booster Club,” said Reinert.

Ross, who served as club president in the 1984-1985 school year, can’t pinpoint exactly why he was nabbed as the club’s first president but he recalls being urged by then Glenwood Community High School Athletic Director Gene Schatz to help out with forming a new booster club, along with some other community members.

“There were a lot of people involved and Gene asked us if we couldn’t come together and revitalize the old organization for a specific purpose,” Ross said.

The specific purpose was the much-needed universal weight machine for the high school weight room. So Ross and the group came together, saw the need and set out to raise the money for the purchase.

“We saw the need and could help so we pulled people together to support this cause. Thanks to a lot of people, not just the board, it was the whole community who got behind this. They just have helped tirelessly over the years,” said Ross.

The $6,500 weight machine was a daunting undertaking for the fledgling group, said Ross, but one that didn’t discourage the group from pledging more money each and every year. The group held a softball tournament and other functions to raise money “however we could,” in the early years, said Ross.

“It was a nickel here and a dime there but we got it all together,” he said.

Ross said the response from the very beginning was excellent.

“I think people saw the need and saw that we were sincere in what were trying to accomplish so they were willing to get behind it,“ he said. “Everyone from the parents, to the coaches to the school staff, were supportive.”

The weight machine was dedicated at the high school in January of 1984. A photograph of Ross and Schatz with the machine appeared in the Jan. 16, 1984 edition of The Opinion-Tribune.

“The coaches were very supportive,” said Ross, who remains a booster club member to this day. “They appreciated everything we were trying to do because it benefited every athletic program, not just wrestling or basketball or track. We were helping every program, girls and boys. They all benefited.”

“They make a huge impact,” said current Glenwood Athletic Director Scott Arkfeld. “The types of things they have taken on financially with the fund raisers are great. With the slogan of ‘let the kids play, let the coaches coach, it’s been a bonus to have them out there doing the fundraising for us. Being able to supply the school with uniforms and all the equipment needs we have, its unbelievable what they’ve been able to do.”

Over the years the boosters have contributed $20,000 to the school’s all-weather athletic track, $15,000 for the field house addition in 1995, $24,000 for new bleachers and a sound system at the football field, $5,700 for new wrestling mats, and more than $50,000 alone in new weight equipment. That’s in addition to supplying half the cost of new uniforms for every high school sports program every four years.

Arkfeld serves as the school’s liaison to the booster club. Typically, he said, a coach comes to him requesting a piece of equipment and he takes the request to the booster club.

“I don’t really have a budget for athletics,” said Arkfeld. “My budget is based on activity passes and gate receipts. With some of our up front expenses, it gets pretty expensive.”

Arkfeld said it cost the school $500 alone to host a basketball game. Without the booster club, Arkfeld imagines the school would have a distinctly different look.

“You would definitely notice it,” he said. “We would not have uniforms or the equipment. When you’re buying a new baseball bat that costs $400, the booster club is so vital its unbelievable. Even though that bat costs $400 it only last about one season as an effective baseball bat.”

The Reinerts, who both graduated from Glenwood in the early 1980s, first became boosters in 2002 when their oldest son was a freshman. They currently have two sons who participate in multiple sports at the high school. In a lot of ways they are the typical Glewood booster: heavily involved in Glenwood athletics and willing to help out where they can.

The club has a record 176 members this year. The goal during last year’s annual membership drive was to raise $25,000 for the club’s 25th anniversary. While they came up just short, the $24,775 was a record for the event. The club offers a gold membership for $200, which includes two free passes to all home Glenwood sporting events, and a black membership for $100 that includes one pass.

“Given the money we raise, the things we’re able to contribute and our numbers, I think we have a pretty great booster club,” she said. “I think that’s all thanks the community and all the parents.

“I think people in the community and parents like to be involved in what their kids are doing. In a small town our kids have an opportunity to play multiple sports and the parents like to get involved and support that.”

The booster club’s next project is perhaps their most ambitious: equipping the entire weight room at the new high school. The estimated price tag: $40,000 to $50,000.

“We would like to completely re-do it so we could leave most of what is already there (in the current high school) for the middle school,” said Reinert.

The club holds its annual dinner and auction this Saturday at the high school. The club hopes to raise the bulk of that weight room money with the auction. The club raised raised about $25,000 at last year’s auction.

With the new high school opening and membership numbers growing every year, Reinert thinks the club will only get bigger and better.

“I think people feel good about what we’ve done for the community and all the athletes and for fitness, which is important for all students, not just athletes,” she said.