By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It’s been a long time since McKay High School Athletics had a booster club for it’s Athletics Department.
Back in 2010, for a variety of reasons, the group was disbanded
Fast forward to now, April of 2016, the group has been reformed with nine members to their name.
Behind the support from other athletic booster clubs like McNary and West Salem High Schools, the group looks to help improve athletics at McKay High School.
But, the journey to this point hasn’t been without some struggle.
“I would be lying if I say it was much more of a struggle than I thought it was going to be,” said At-Large Board Member Chris Tarver. “I think a lot of us thought it would be. We’re also starting basically from scratch and having to do work of a number of booster club members should be doing with really nine of us on the board and whatever assistance we can drum up from.”
“It’s been slow at times to me anyway and trying to keep our eyes on the prize, but you’re seeing that timeline closing too so it’s tough.”
Struggles stemming from paperwork, getting their name out there and building up some support have been in the face of the McKay A.B.C Nine, but their focus is on the prize at the end of the tunnel.
To help out the Royal Scots at McKay High School.
“There’s so many needs at that school,” said Tarver. “Every time I go there, I end up feeling more…just that anger. That I can’t believe that these guys have this. I can’t believe that this is what they’re working with here.
“Then I realize that they do everything for themselves. Whatever they have up to this point, got on their own sweat, their own backs and not having anyone to coordinate with. It’s tough, it’s what coaches have to do that they shouldn’t. (They should) just focus on coaching the kids and the wins will come. That’s more time spending what you need to do to get the kids ready for competition.”
Coaches have slowly showed their support.
Curt Everetts of the Track and Field team. Josh Zellick of the Cross Country team, Athletic Director Luke Neibling and Head Football Coach Brett Rhodes have also been seen at Club Meetings every month to name a few.
“It’s very important for the kids and the community to be involved in athletics and in a different way just being a parent,” said Rhodes. “They get to have a little more investment in what resources their kids have.
“Right now they’re working on a big facility upgrade or it could be little things like equipment, tennis shoes, cleats and things like that. So those resources are vital to the kids and it’s good having them working to have that stuff happen for them.”
The big project, the first project on the docket for the Club is to working on the football field.
McKay is one of the last schools in the area that hasn’t converted over to a turf field for their football program and the decision to focus on that one task was a hard one said Tarver.
“I mean we’re trying to remain focus on one objective and this is the big one,” said Tarver. “But we don’t want to forget the others. I mean, I don’t know how you could. There’s so many needs here.”
The list is long on what they can do for Tarver, President Becky Bryant, and the Athletic Booster Club that they need to focus on one thing at a time while coordinating with other coaches for their needs.
Things like sending out questionnaires with coaches to see what their needs are so they won’t walk in blind when they speak with coaches and so on.
“We want to take care of everybody but you have to somewhat focus on one objective at a time,” said Tarver. “(We’re) trying to do our best with that and do that as quickly as possible.”
For the football project, they’ve brought in Danielle Bethel to work as a project coordinator. Bethel is a McKay graduate and worked on the McNary football field project that was completed recently.
“She was pretty key in bringing their project home and getting it completed on time for last fall,” said Tarver on Bethel. “I think it’s important to have someone who has the blueprint, especially in the position McKay is in. “
Rhodes said that, yeah it’ll be great for his football program to have this field; but it is also great in other areas as he looks into the long-term solutions of this project.
“To me I look at it kind of more the big picture, long-term,” said Rhodes. “The turf project is great for football. (But) it’s also good for PE, it’s good for soccer, it’s good for other sports as well.
“But long-term, it’s having that resource, the football project, that’s something to be done in one- or two-years and then what, they have a lot more bigger roles and responsibilities that they’re going to be attacking that’s going to be better for the longitivity of McKay High School.”
With fundraisers at Five Guys across the street from the school and the Olive Garden down Lancaster to start raising money and getting their name out there, the McKay Booster Club hope to make McKay great again.
To make simple changes for programs that’ll last for a long, long time. To add to the trophy case that sits outside the basketball gym, to make certain that the school are building winning ways and change the negative stigma that’s floating around campus.
“Losing is so contagious. It’s so hard to shake, that aurora,” said Tarver. “It’s just like anything else. But when you start believing in yourself, you’ll be almost impossible to shake that. But I think it’s going to take some commitment, booster commitment, student commitment, school’s commitment, district commitment, community (commitment).
“It has to be a mixture of everything to be involved. People who went to school there, we need to reach out to them. We need to leave no stone unturned because it’s important to show these kids that people care about them.”
Looking to see what works best from other schools booster clubs, the McKay Athletic Booster Club hope to be that cheerleader for their athletic programs.
To help them succeed and perform on and off the field.
“It’s something that I want for my son, for those kids I see on the field,” said Tarver. “You see them working as hard as they can in everything. “
To see how the Athletic Booster Club is doing, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/McKay-Athletic-Booster-Club-948427185235247/?fref=ts .
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81