By Maureen Callahan
There are always items that aren’t covered by high school athletic budgets. Those extras, when gifted to a team, make all the difference. York High School athletic coaches know they can lean on the Athletic Booster Club for anything they need.
Since 1974, the York High School Athletic Booster Club has helped sports teams gain access to non-budgeted items at York. Coaches from A-Z- or badminton to wrestling- are made aware of the support extended by the Boosters. “We’re very supportive and proud of all our athletes, and we’re mindful that they’re aware that we’re here to help,” said Booster Club President Heidi Jeffries.
With 240 members, 30 of whom serve on the Board of Directors, they’re an established presence at the school. The Booster Club is organized into various committees of Communications, Sponsorship, Apparel, Concessions, and Heritage, which allows rainy day funds for big-ticket items.
At the beginning of the school year, coaches are approached to submit any requests for their teams. The Athletic Director makes it clear that there’s no ask, too big or too small, to help their athletes succeed. The Booster Board is then provided with a list of items and their descriptions, as well as an approximate dollar amount. The Board then meets and discusses various criteria.
Typically, the allocation is approved. “For example, wrestling mats,” Jeffries offered. “We go through the mats and evaluate if the ones we have are past their current useful life. We have a great relationship with District 205, but realize there are many allocations for taxpayer dollars, so we’re happy to pick up the slack.”
“Last year, we were able to provide and furnish a new fitness center available to all student-athletes,” said Jeffries. “We also helped fund the cost of a fitness coach to work with the student-athletes. Every coach was invited to meet with the fitness team to develop a program individualized to their particular discipline.”
Other items purchased included a new swim clock, wrestling mats, windscreens for the tennis team, and soccer equipment.
“We are very mindful of spreading out dollars among all coaches and programs and try to be equitable between boys’ and girls’ teams,” said Jeffries.
The club has about 240 families that hold memberships- one of their main ways of fundraising. Apparel sales bring in a sizeable portion of the budget as well. The Boosters are also very grateful for their community banner sponsors-the 25 or so businesses that support the club throughout the year. All this, combined with concession sales at athletic events, are their main avenues of raising revenue.
For decades, York Booster Club’s biggest fundraiser has been the Green Scene, a yearly event. This year’s Green Scene is scheduled for February 2024 at River Forest Country Club. It’s a fun night of food, silent and live auctions, fun, games, and live music. “We’re blessed to have great sponsors that underwrite the cost of the event, so we can return even more money back to the club and, in turn, back to the kids,” Jeffries acknowledged.
In addition to fundraising for the athletic teams, the Boosters sponsor other events at the school as well, such as the Back to School Bash each September. Young Hearts for Life, the largest cardiac screening event for student-athletes in the nation, hosts an all-day event at the school that has Booster members volunteering their time.
The help provided by the York Booster Club members and volunteers provides monetary and moral support for the school’s athletes. The benefits are easily recognizable in the successes of their sports teams! ■