DEER ISLE—Two Deer Isle-Stonington moms have become the driving force behind the Deer Isle-Stonington High School Athletic Booster Club. While Katie Bray and Marie Hutchinson do not have children of their own in the high school, both women felt it was necessary to step up after former chair Elissa Haskell announced it had become too much for her to do on her own on top of other responsibilities.
“Being community members and not parents of athletes, we hope that we can bridge a gap that seems to have widened in recent years between school athletics and the community,” said Bray in an email December 13.
As with any volunteer group, the success depends on the level of support that comes from the community. With groups like high school booster clubs, that support generally comes from the parents of student-athletes, many of whom also hold jobs and are involved elsewhere.
“Often times the volunteers become discouraged when their level of commitment increases [because] not enough people are involved to run a program successfully,” said Bray.
Bray added that she and Hutchinson have both noticed that as athletic opportunities are becoming increasingly more limited on the island, more and more parents are bringing their children off island to participate in other programs, despite the extra time and money it costs. She said that it is her hope, as well as Hutchinson’s, that the booster club will be able to have enough success to start providing those opportunities on the island.
Hutchinson, a two-sport athlete during her high school days, said that the unfortunate thing is that programs at the lower grade levels are not being supported, causing volunteers, and the programs, to burn out.
“Pee Wee programs for basketball, at least until recently, had great numbers of children participating. Sadly, volunteers who run the programs are suffering burnout and that program is not running now,” she said.
Bray added that while she did not play sports in high school, she did avidly attend sporting events to support the teams. She said she remembers large crowds packing the gym during basketball season, and that while there are still good crowds at games now, the numbers are not what they used to be. This also holds true for the numbers of students participating in sports, she said.
“I’ve also noticed that numbers of students participating in sports programs are at an all time low, not because they don’t want to but because we don’t have the numbers to begin with. I do know that future classes coming into the high school do carry those numbers and we [the boosters] want to be prepared to help them as much as possible,” she said.
The group’s latest endeavor was a Facebook campaign called Mariners Supporting Mariners, calling on community fishermen to sponsor a concessions package during varsity basketball games. The campaign was so successful that overnight the club raised enough money to support the projected concession needs of the entire season. Those who donated will be recognized at halftime and at the concession stand.
The difficult part now is to get enough volunteers to run the concession stand for the remainder of the season, said Bray. Those interested in doing so should contact Bray and Hutchinson at email@example.com, or put their name on a sign up sheet at the games.
“It is our desire to re-invent and strengthen the booster club, having parent representatives from each sport as well as coaches, and other community members pulling together to assess needs, set goals, and build relationships that bring back Mariner spirit and pride,” said Bray.