SWABC: A partnership of school and community
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CUTLINE: The renovated football field and all-weather track is just one of the large-scale projects the South Winn Athletic Booster Club has supported financially in its nearly 30 years of existence. (submitted photo)
SWABC: A partnership of school and community
“I cannot stress enough what a great partnership we have with the South Winn administration, board, and community,” said Chad Poshusta, outgoing South Winn Athletic Booster Club (SWABC) president.
SWABC began in 1984 at the urging of several like-minded and involved parents as a way to aid the school in purchasing big-ticket items for the athletic programs of South Winn.
One of those parents was Tom Bushman, who recalled pulling a milkshake machine to every imaginable event throughout those first summers to raise funds.
“It was no fun, but it was for the kids,” said Tom Bushman, one of the earliest members of SWABC. “Of course, in the beginning we couldn’t generate the funds they can now, but it was well worth it.”
Bushman and his wife, Terri, were just two of the first members, along with Gerald “Augi” Wiltgen who served as the club’s first president, Phil and Carol Hemesath, and others that Bushman cannot recall.
“It’s amazing how the organization has evolved. It has been well worth everyone’s efforts,” remarked Bushman. “I am glad it has been so successful and that is due in part to the individuals who have stepped forward as members after us.”
As a 1990 graduate of South Winn and current SWABC member, Shanna (Bushman) Schweinefus remembered playing softball at the current field, but the concession stand was simply a card table.
“That’s all they had — they didn’t really even have bleachers there in the late 1980s,” noted Schweinefus.
Although SWABC was organized nearly 30 years ago, it wasn’t until the last 10 years that fundraising efforts have really been put to significant use.
“In earlier years many parents attended and supported only the events their children were in. With the popularity of the Booster Club passes, now we have begun to see a change that more parents have begun crossing over and supporting all of the athletics,” said current athletic director Bruce Gullickson.
Around 2000 was also a time when members expanded the numbers and types of items provided in concession stands and began selling South Winn attire.
It was to the tune of approximately $30,000 that SWABC contributed to the construction of a concession stand at the athletic complex on the visitor’s side of the football field around 2002. The building was erected close enough to the baseball field so as to be utilized during the summer months as well.
The next big project slated for SWABC was a fantasy that had been in the back of many minds since the current baseball field was built in 1994.
“We really wanted lights, but the fundraising and increasing prices made it difficult,” said Gullickson. “We still wouldn’t have lights if it wasn’t for Daryl Luzum.”
When Luzum died in the fall of 2005, the SWABC learned that money from his estate had been put aside especially for lights to be erected for the baseball field. Daryl’s contribution was well over $50,000.
The next big step for the athletes of South Winn was the conversion of the former agricultural and shop classrooms into a weight room, complete with state-of-the-art equipment. The entire project was completed in August 2010 with SWABC contributing $30,000 in renovations and equipment.
In usual fasion, SWABC continued to find ways to contribute to the athletic programs and in 2011 the organization donated $18,000 to the school for new football and softball lights.
Also completed in 2011 was the renovation of the high school concession stand outside of the gymnasium, opening up the space, adding running water, and more counter space to accommodate more patrons at a time.
One of the last projects completed has been the construction of a concession stand and a press box at the softball diamond in 2012 at a cost of $15,000.
In 2013, the SWABC donated $15,000 to the track and football field renovation and is still seeking donations to help fund the nearly completed project.
Poshusta noted that none of the projects could have been possible without the hundreds of volunteer hours, equipment, and community support of the fundraisers.
It is also important to acknowledge that the large donations set forth by SWABC do not reflect all the organization gives to the school. There are also uniforms, golf bags, and other specialty equipment.
“We have probably helped with a total of $15,000 worth of uniforms in the last five years,” said Poshusta, “but so much of the fundraising is done by the coaches and athletes.”
Gullickson noted one thing he has learned as the A.D. is that team fundraising is a way that coaches and athletes can take care of their own programs.
“Our teams have done a fantastic job,” complimented Gullickson.
Over the years SWABC has hosted membership drives that in early years earned $6,000; last year the club brought in nearly $19,000.
Other fundraising opportunities SWABC have hosted include a chicken dinner, salt sales, discount cards, cookie dough, and so much more.
“The amount of money that is generated through our athletes is very good. Those funds are a reflection of the communities’ support, and without that, we would not be able to do the things that we have,” added SWABC member Alan Shindelar.
He also noted that the one shortcoming SWABC has had over the years is not sharing with the community everything the group has done to help provide student athletes with the best facilities.
“We need to thank them (the surrounding communities) for the monies, time, and effort that has gone into these projects,” concluded Shindelar. “We have done our part as an organization, but in the end people have been so helpful.”
Contrary to earlier reports in the Ossian Bee, SWABC would like to announce that the South Winn football team will play all of its scheduled Friday night home games on its renovated field in Calmar.