Parents are the gears that turn the booster programs


I sat about a month ago with FMHS Athletic Booster president Mark Cartwright in the MPR room at Fort Madison High School.
I saw a man tired... a retired veteran who spends most of his time at the high school athletic facilities representing the Fort Madison Athletic Boosters. What he should be doing is enjoying the downhill ride of life on that three-wheeled motorcycle his famous for zoom, zooming around town on.
Mark is the father of current FMHS assistant football coach Andrew Cartwright and has been a part of the booster program since his son was a youngster.
Mark spoke with me at length about the booster program and how the program, like many volunteer-based programs in the area, is struggling to find volunteers.
Athletic boosters throughout time have excelled because there's always a new crop of students coming into the programs and typically those students' parents were engaged with their children's success and wanted to offer support where it was needed.
Many parents are still engaged and want to help the programs grow as a supplement to their child's participation. But as most have experienced, volunteers are tough to find in today's world. Even social groups are having trouble keeping numbers viable to be productive in their communities.
Something has changed, but it needs to change back.
Athletic programs are a commitment - not just of funds or the occasional stack of PowerAde or water, but of time.
Cartwright told me he just didn't have much left in the tank and that it was critical that people with students in the program step up so that the important work of raising funds for scholarships and equipment continues. Those funds come from manning concession stands and working fundraisers.
Sure there are great volunteers in our community, Mark's one of them. But typically, and I get around more than most, it's the same people.
We have great coaches...GREAT COACHES and we have some great parents that pull the cart, but what really makes the gears turn is a great database of people to call on.
The more you have, the more you can do.
We have businesses that give very generously financially and in-kind to keep Bloodhound sports programs moving forward.
But think about this. What if not enough people step forward to make that board viable for years to come.
Think about what goes away if that goes away - and think about what comes next. Pay to play?
When I get my hamburger at the softball game or a bottle of water at Youel Field, I see the same people working the stand year in and year out.
If you're child is playing step up and say "What can I do. Where can I help". Call Mark he'll hook you up with the right people.
I can't remember the last time I went to a basketball game or wrestling match at the Hound Dome and Mark didn't have to sneak a peak at the door as the popcorn was popping because he couldn't get away from manning the station. He should be leading with his experience and knowledge, leading the charges of a vast group ofvolunteers who want to see Bloodhound programs exceed expectations, not just meet them.
If there's a message that needs sent, let this serve as that message. Without people, there is no program. Any good leader will tell you that.
And along those lines, let's hope that a bevy of people show up Monday for the Jordan's Way fundraiser at PAW Animal Shelter. Last year Kris Rotunda led a four-hour circus that raised close to $40,000 for the no-kill animal shelter. This year they're going for $100,000, and if the thing goes crazy, director Sandy Brown won't shy away from shooting for $200,000. She wants to be the top event in the country. She just might get there , but she too will need us - But that's Beside the Poin.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

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