Blazers head coach Chris Grudeski and defensive coach Adam Neale came to council last week, noting they incurred several one-time expenses because in 2015, the school fielded a team for the first time in about 40 years.
“As a first-year team, we experienced an above-average year when it came to costs,” Neale wrote in a submission presented to council.
“In addition to buying every single piece of equipment that the kids needed: shoulder pads, helmets, face masks and game pants which totaled well over $5,000, we also had to make many one-time purchases including: goal post pads, yard markers, down sticks and end zone markers, which came to a total of approximately $2,000.
“The coaches and players of the Bowden Blazers football team would greatly appreciate any support the town of Bowden would be willing to give us to help us ensure that the team has a good, solid financial foundation, so that we can grow from and ensure that the program is around for future students to play and enjoy for many years to come.”
Grudeski said the team is willing to help the town in any way it can in order to fundraise for next season.
Weiss says the team’s request will be one of many council considers as it hammers out this year’s town budget.
“The football sponsorship request is going to be included in budget deliberations. So council hasn’t said ‘no,’ they haven’t said ‘yes.’ They will deliberate an appropriate amount at the time of budget deliberations,” he told the Albertan.
Weiss said council will decide how much to give as part of an overall town municipal donation policy which it hopes to create in the coming weeks.
To that end, council created a subcommittee consisting of councillors Sandy Gamble, Wayne Milaney and Lloyd Lane.
“They’re going to research and draft a donations policy and bring it back to council for further deliberation,” Weiss said.
Grudeski and Neale told council the school’s first football team in 40 years or so was a great success – on and off the field.
Twenty-two students from grades 9-12 came out to practise and/or play the game. By the end of the season 21 were still involved.
“The kids bought into our program right away and there was a noticeable improvement in many of the kids’ school as well as community spirit. The whole team turned into student leaders on and off the field,” their submission said.
“We were very fortunate to have an overwhelming amount of backing from virtually everyone in the town. Teachers, students, parents, community groups, local businesses, town residents and even town councillors all came out and cheered and supported us.”
Coun. Sheila Church agreed involvement in the team seemed to change the attitude and behaviour of some students.
“We noticed too on the Community Action Society, a year ago we were having some problems with some of the people who played football this year at the park, just raising hell,” she said. “And nothing this year. Nothing; they’re busy.”
“I think probably some of the kids you’re talking about, those are the same kids that every time we had a fundraiser they were the ones there,” he said.
He said that enthusiasm and leadership has spread into other school sports and activities.
“We’re starting a dodgeball tournament for kind of grades 5 to 12, and I just had some kids today in my class and said ‘who’d want to help out with the Grade 5 tournament?’ I probably had six or eight kids volunteer, which I don’t think would have happened last year,” Grudeski said.
“We expect a number 1 draft pick from Bowden High,” Coun. Wayne Milaney said jokingly to loud laughter.
Grudeski said there’s at least one kid on the team who has great potential.
“Council hasn’t said ‘no,’ they haven’t said ‘yes.’ They will deliberate an appropriate amount at the time of budget deliberations.”ANDY WEISS BOWDEN CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER