BALLINGER — Last year, the Ballinger Bearcat Athletic Booster Club raised $58,000 for school athletic programs, both in the junior high and high school. Raising an incredible sum of money like that in a small town is no small feat. The efforts to help the Ballinger Bearcat athletics succeed require community involvement, from local businesses to the members of the athletic booster club.

Jennifer Nash, president of the athletic booster club, said, “The booster club appreciates everyone’s support in the community and nothing we do would be successful without them. We truly mean that.”

Of the $58,000 raised, $51,500 was spent on athletics at both the junior high and high school.

The athletic booster club requires almost year-round work from their members. Currently there are 206 members, with 78 being lifetime members. The club doesn’t only support the football program, it supports all of the other sports, including tennis, golf, power lifting, baseball, cheerleading, etc. Their resolve to take care of the athletes and ensure that they have what they need is never-ending.

As the seasons run one right after the other during the school year, summer is about gearing up and being ready for the upcoming school year.

Terilyn Bowman, the Vice President of Communications for the athletic booster club, pointed out that they do not rest on the success of the previous year.

“We’re always looking to improve every year,” Bowman said. “We are open to receiving new ideas from the community. What we do is not set in stone. If someone in the community has ideas, we’re open to discussing their ideas with them.”

The work is a family affair, not just the members of the booster club pitch in, but in many cases, their spouses and children help with the merchandise tables, loading and unloading the supplies, running errands and more.

“Our own kids help us out,” Nash said while detailing all of the ways in which they help, as the need for volunteers is never-ending

“We always need volunteers because we have something going year-round,” Bowman said. “We use an app called Sign Up so that we can effectively organize the tasks and volunteers. That way we don’t schedule two people for something that only requires one and we can ensure each task is accomplished.”

The organization required of the group to tackle all of the events, athlete needs and fundraisers every year is impressive and Nash oversees it all while others in the club tend to their respective responsibilities.

One aspect of the community support that many don’t realize are the contributions and cooperation of the board members’ employers.

“A lot of us work full time and our bosses have been great with allowing us time to do what we need to do for the athletics booster club,” said Bowman, who works at the Willingham Insurance.

Another significant source of help are the local businesses.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the local businesses,” Bowman added. “They support us both monetarily and with providing supplies such as food for our fundraiser dinners and more.”

Key support comes from the school board and the high school principal, as well as the coaches and athletic director.

“The school board is supportive and the high school principal is a positive factor in what we do,” Nash said. “The hours that we put in are nothing compared to the hours put in by the coaches.”

While that may be true, the success of the athletic booster club is a true team effort, with every person playing a key role in the success.

The biggest fundraiser that the club has every year is a basketball tournament during the first weekend in December, beginning on that Thursday. The coaches contact teams at other schools, arrange for the referees and handle other duties. Anywhere from 10 to 15 schools participate in the tournament for a total of 32 teams competing.

“We start organizing the basketball tournament in mid-October,” Nash said. “During the tournament we begin work at 7 a.m. and usually don’t finish up until late at night.”

Other fundraising endeavors include selling spirit merchandise, dinners, selling advertising space on the athletic poster to local businesses and the membership drive. The membership drive is a key fundraiser and has been very successful. On Thursday nights, the booster club paints the football field with the Bearcat logo.

There are several upcoming events on the calendar, including a media day on Aug. 18, a Pigskin Preview Meal on Aug. 28, homecoming hamburger lunch during homecoming week and the basketball tournament during the first weekend in December. Every spring, the club hosts a banquet to honor the athletes from all sports and from both the junior high and high school.

The Bearcat Athletic Booster Club, the community and all of the entities involved in making it successful work as a cohesive unit. They keep their lines of communication open and work together to organize the events. Everyone involved ensures the athletes have the best that there is to offer in the way of support so that they can be successful in their respective sports. Nash is sure provide solid leadership and build on the successes of last year along with the other club officers.

On Thursday, Aug. 2, the athletic booster club held elections for the upcoming year. Nash was elected president again, while Bowman handed the reins of vice president of communications to Lynna Rollwitz. There were two ladies elected to the vice president of concessions position, Laura Gonzales and Margaret Watkins. They replaced Elke Hughes who had held the position last year. Jill Battle was elected as the new treasurer, replacing Elliott. Mary Cortez retained her position as secretary of the club.

If you’d like more information on the Bearcat Athletic Booster Club, such as volunteering or how you can support them in other ways, their website is www.ballingersports.com and their Facebook page is Ballinger Bearcat Athletic Booster Club.