By Sue Moore
“We feel we have made a difference in Schoolcraft’s sports programs,” said Wade Rutkoskie, president of the Schoolcraft Athletic Boosters.
The group raises nearly $26,000 a year through three fundraisers: the Firecracker 5-Miler and 5K Walk on the 4th of July, the Big Hole Golf Outing in the fall, and banners posted on sports fields and courts that advertise sponsors’ businesses. Families also can donate.
The coaches submit their requests to the athletic director throughout the school year for items other than capital needs projects. The job of the Boosters is to fill in the gaps that the school doesn’t have the money to spend on extra items for the athletes. “We believe the positive things that come from athletics are teamwork, setting goals and finding common ground. Athletics have tons of impact on kids,” said Josh Graber, the Boosters’ treasurer.
Rutkoskie and Graber should know – they came up through the Schoolcraft school system, riding the bus together as youngsters. They have coached Little League and Rocket Football teams together as adults, and both stayed in Schoolcraft to raise their families. Graber and his wife, Candi, have three sons, ages 16, 14 and 11. Rutkoskie and his wife, Cari, who serves as secretary of the Boosters, have one son, age 13. They are joined by Gary Davis, who serves as vice president of the organization and has two sons, ages 17 and 19. They are eager to recruit new members to the group to help share the load of fundraising.
A list of their accomplishments for the sports teams in Schoolcraft is a long one over the last five years these volunteers have been involved. They were recruited to the program by Doug Flynn when he was athletic director. Jeff Clark, going into his fifth year as athletic director, has elevated the sports visibility with his own contributions to the Boosters.
Business donors in the Gold Club include: Cole Krum Chevrolet, J&J Acres, Walther Farms, Infinity Mortgage, Dunshee, Premier Melon, DeVisser Landscape, Schoolcraft Veterinary Clinic and Centre Meadows.
Under Clark’s partnership with the Boosters, they have purchased both big and little items:
• The Hudl video analytics tool that costs $3,000 for all sports in the district and enables live play-by-play account of a game’s action. It can even be seen in Iraq if a soldier has access to a computer.
• A sports trailer was purchased two years ago for $3,000. It holds pole vault equipment on top with custom-made cabinets to accommodate sports equipment inside.
• The athletic trainer’s tables received new covers, and the Boosters also purchased a mobile table with donations from an anonymous donor.
• Batting cage improvements were made possible by donations from Don Hunt Concrete and The Dome.
• The most recent improvement, costing $3,000, was wrapping the football, softball and baseball scoreboards so they look much like new, helped by a donation from Kerwin Electric.
• The Boosters purchased ImPACT concussion protocol testing for the athletic trainer to use in making base evaluations of athletes.
• $3,000 a year goes to developmental youth camps for athletes.
• $7,000 bought a timing system for the track because there weren’t enough volunteers to hold a stopwatch at track meets. This purchase was made four years ago.
• They give two scholarships of $500 each to the male and female athlete of the year.
• The biggest purchase in 2019 and over the last few years is in the weight room. They partnered with the PTO and the school district, with each paying a third, to buy new equipment. Rutkoskie especially saw the need as the old equipment in use was there when he was in high school some 30 years ago.