The White Pine Athletic Boosters, in partnership with student athletes, coaches, administrators, staff and faculty of White Pine High School, have successfully raised more than $120,000, enough money to save all high school sports programs for the current academic year.

Earlier this year, due to decreases in school census numbers that cost the school district more than $1 million in revenue, the costs of retaining experienced teachers, rising insurance rates and other necessary expenditures, and having already slashed professional and administrative services in previous budgets, the district board was forced to cut $90,000 from high school sports programs, a reduction that would have had devastating consequences had the boosters and others not stepped in.

Vince Windous, current president of the White Pine Athletic Boosters, said the previous booster board was approached by then high school principal/current school’s superintendent, Adam Young, who asked if the group would be willing to partner with the school to help save the high school sports programs.

That board, whose president was current White Pine High School Principal Rebecca Murdock, agreed to assist with working to salvage the sports programs. The board and other concerned members put their heads together and came up with a multifaceted fundraising movement they named the “We Ride For the Brand” campaign, with the purpose of bringing all sports together to raise enough money to protect all of the sports programs at the high school.

“Historically, the boosters stepped in for the purpose of making supplemental purchases for the sports programs.” Windous said. “This is the first time in history that the boosters were asked to help raise enough money to actually save programs.”

As part of the “We Ride For the Brand “ campaign, the boosters developed committees, which split up fundraising duties, studied how other booster clubs raised money, and came up with a plan that raised the necessary amount of money needed to fund all sports programs at White Pine High School.

The student athletes themselves initially raised more than $38,000 by hosting The Bobcat and Ladycat commitment challenge, where athletes and future athletes pursued pledges from community members for laps they ran in an hour, and the Iron Athlete Challenge, collecting pledges for the number of jump squats, push ups, pull ups and other sport specific tasks they could do in 15 minutes.

“It’s a good thing for the community to see that their efforts worked,” Windous said. “It’s important to thank all the people that sponsored those kids and those activities — and Adam, who was the chair for that fundraiser and the committee members who made it a success, we need to thank them as well.”

The boosters contributed by hosting their annual BFD (Barbecue, Fun, Dance) at County Park during the 4th of July weekend and hosting a one pitch softball tournament in July as well, but it was their vision of adding to the ranks of the booster club’s membership that took their fundraising efforts to a new level, one that would save, for the time being, the future of White Pine High School athletics.

“Ninety-thousand is a lot of money,” Windous said. “We’re not used to raising that amount; it’s a daunting thing.”

They revised their membership fees and began a membership drive, reaching out to alumni and White Pine County businesses, striving to get everyone on board. As a result of their efforts, the boosters have raised $83,000 since June from the local business community, with some of that money going directly into the school’s athletic fund.

“We’re hoping to give recognition to all of the people who have stepped up and helped,” Windous said, noting that 45 people, not including businesses, have joined the group as members.

The booster club began a multi-level membership plan that they are promoting online for both businesses and individuals (www.teamspectator.com/join/whitepineathleticboosters) with memberships beginning at $5,000 (or more) for a Corporate/Business Platinum Level plan that offers 10 all sports passes, a full page ad in the seasonal sports program, a large company sign at the football field and gym, PA recognition at all home athletic contests, 10 Booster polos, 10 car window decals, company game night (varsity home game) to include company sign at facility entrances, distribution of company promotional material by cheer staff throughout the game, t-shirts for the first 20 company employees who attend the game and car window decals for all company employees that attend the game.

According to Windous, some businesses have joined at $5,000 or more and will be recognized at the Bobcat’s upcoming four home football games this season: Reed Incorporated on Sept. 16, Mt. Wheeler Power Sept. 23, William B. Ririe Hospital Oct. 14 and Kinross Bald Mountain Mine Oct. 21.

Local mine, KGHM Robinson Mining, will be recognized during the basketball season.

There are nine plans total, the lowest being the individual level for $50 a year that includes a booster T-shirt, a window decal and recognition in the seasonal sport’s program. A senior (65 and older) membership plan at $35, includes the same package.

“We’re not just asking people for money,” Windous said. “We’re trying to give people something.”

Windous said due to the limited number of boosters working on the project, many businesses have not yet been contacted but that any interested business or individual could call him at 775-296-1995 and he would be happy to meet with them.

“We are very pleased with the support we’ve received in the community. It’s important that we recognize the businesses and individuals that are helping,” he said. “We all have other things we could do with our money.”

He said when the funding situation came into being and the district knew they needed more money to fund these programs, the school board raised participation fees for kids to play sports from $100 for the first sport they played, $50 for the second and free for the third sport, to $200 for the first sport, $150 for the second and $125 for the third. Now, due to the combined efforts of everyone who has been trying to save the sports programs, last week the school board returned participation fees to their previous levels.

Windous, who still has two children involved on the soccer team, said it was a welcome savings for his family and others. He said he believes sports, and all extra-curricular activities were important to the growth and well being of students.

“If it had not been for sports when I was in school, I’m not sure what kind of kid I would be,” he said. “Sports give kids focus.”

He encouraged the community to go online, or contact him and become members of the Booster Club.

“We’ve done a really good job for the manpower we had,” he said, plugging his fellow board members and other volunteers. “Hopefully we can get more people involved.”

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