2007-05-03 / News

Island should 'boost' NK athletics

By Adrienne Downing

The Town of Jamestown sends 213 students, approximately 14- percent of the student body, to North Kingstown High School. More than 50 percent of those island students are student athletes, but the Jamestown presence is not represented accordingly in the athletic booster club.

"We hear a lot that people in Jamestown just don't know about the booster club," said Keith Kenyon, NK co-athletic director.

The booster club's role is to provide the "extras," that help make NK athletics so successful, but are not covered in the school's athletic budget. They pay for coach's clinics, replace aging equipment, pay for championship banners and record holder's signs in the gym.

Last year they replaced the scoreboard table, a $4,000 expense, and provided a participation or letter plaque to each sports participant.

"The booster club pays for about $20,000 in awards each year, including the awards for the fall, winter and spring sports seasons, as well as the senior banquet," Aaron Thomas, co-athletic director said. "They also provide $50 per athlete to buy jackets for the participants on state championship teams, and we have had quite a few of those this year."

The school faced a major athletic department budget cut, around $30,000, this year, and the booster club was able to make a one-time donation of $21,000 to make sure that winter and spring sports teams would be able to play their seasons as scheduled.

"This is not something that we normally do, and is definitely a oneshot thing, but it was wonderful that the booster club could help out in that way," Jamestown resident Fred Uttley, club treasurer, said.

"The money went towards bus transportation, tournament fees and officials fees," Thomas added. "I don't think people realize how much it helps the teams to be able to play non-league games and tournaments."

The club holds three major fund-raisers each year to finance their efforts. They also receive revenue from the concession stand proceeds.

The fall fund-raiser is a calendar sale, which is held on one day during the sports season.

The calendars have $2,000 in cash prizes, which are divided over the 31 days of December.

"We choose a day during the fall sports season when none of the teams are playing and they meet at various locations throughout North Kingstown and Jamestown and sell the calendars for $5 each," Leslie Buckley, club secretary, said. "It works well because, for the most part, we are able to complete the sales in one day."

"Let us entertain you," is the name of the spring fund-raiser, held at the Quonset Point Officer's Club. The event includes a silent and live auction, dinner and entertainment.

All of the funds raised from the Downey Memorial Golf Tournament in July are used towards scholarships for seniors. Last year the booster club awarded $12,000 in athlete scholarships.

"We have athletes that are going to premier colleges, this is definitely not a "dumb jock" school, and the scholarship fund helps these athletes realize dreams," incoming president and Jamestown resident, Bob Smith, said.

Scholarships are awarded based on a student essay, athletic performance and awards.

"It is a merit-based scholarship and to be eligible the athletes parents must be current members of the booster club," Uttley said.

This year, the tournament will be held on July 13 at the North Kingstown Municipal golf course and includes 18 holes of golf, a cart, meal and a gift.

Tournament organizers are still looking for tee sponsors and golfers.

Smith said there are several ways to get involved with the club. Membership is on a rolling basis and anyone can join at any time.

"One of the best ways to get involved is to just come to the meetings and see what we do. Meetings are open to any member and they are only held once a month, so people are not having to make a huge commitment," he said.

Another way to help is to volunteer in the concession stands.

"It is very social," Buckley said. "You are in there with other people, never alone and you sign up game by game, only two hours at a time, so it is very flexible."

"We try to work it out so that the boys' parents cover the girls games and vice versa, so you aren't missing your child play to volunteer," Smith said.

The various fund-raising committees can also use volunteers, sometimes just to make phone calls or help with donations.

"If someone really wanted to see what benefit this is to the Jamestown community, they should go to a game, check out the facilities and realize that a good percentage of our students are student athletes." Smith concluded. "We are just parents supporting

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