It’s all about the kids: A thank you from Spring Grove Athletic Boosters

Jordan Gerard

State athletic trips are fun, energetic and fantastic for athletes, fans and coaches, but also expensive for schools. 

But with donations raised from Spring Grove Athletic Boosters, the costs of two state football trips (in 2017 and 2018) and one boys state basketball trip in 2019 is offsetting costs for the Spring Grove Public School District.

The Spring Grove Athletic Boosters presented a check for $5,000 to help with those costs.

The boosters have been providing support since their inception in 1994 by Gary and Connie Strinmoen and Spencer and Carolyn Olson.

“They wanted to increase school and community spirit and take the athletic programs to a higher level,” current president Todd Olerud said.

Recently, the boosters have taken on quite a few projects that have big impacts for Spring Grove sports.

They helped purchase a new gymnasium floor, remodeled the baseball field and the press box/crow’s nest at the football field, renovated the school’s weight room and got new backboards for the basketball hoops.

They also manage most of the elementary sports programs and purchase jerseys for the young athletes to wear. 

Currently, the boosters are installing new fencing and finishing the roof on the dugout. They are working on a donor board that will be displayed on the concession stand wall.

For high school, the school district does take care of basic obligations, such as jerseys and transportation costs. But if coaches want a special jersey or something else, the athletic boosters are there to help with the cost.

Connie Strinmoen also takes on the arduous task of setting up fan buses when teams play in Rochester at playoffs and lately, in the cities at the larger state tournament games.

The boosters also provide food for the players on those long trips and sometimes for the fans on the buses.

Community support

“A tremendous amount of support comes from the community and businesses,” Olerud said.

Between the concession stand at the football/baseball field, pork burger stands at Syttende Mai and UffDa Fest, the community support provides the boosters with funds they need to keep operating for the teams.

“For the teams” is the driving force behind Athletic Boosters, in fact. 

“It’s mostly the way we do things. We want the school to focus on the classrooms and academics first,” Olerud explained. “We’re more focused on taking athletics to the next level without the school having to focus on that.”

Olerud also pointed to the quality of coaches Spring Grove has in all sports as another reason for success.

“All of our coaches are incredible in the quality of coaching we have here, especially for a small school,” he added. “Most big schools would be envious. Our coaches are a direct reflection on the kids.”

Olerud said one of the most rewarding things about volunteering with Athletic Boosters was seeing the kids graduating from school and seeing the quality of individuals they’ve become.

“It’s pretty impressive,” he said. “That’s the driving force of why I keep doing what I do. I see how hard they work and the time they put in.”

For Olerud personally, it was a basketball trip out to Aberdeen, South Dakota that showed him a coach’s purpose. The clinic was hosted by Don Meyer, a respected coach, who told the coaches, “My job is to prepare these kids for life, and basketball is just a tool I use to prepare them.”

“I think our coaches embody that. It’s about life lessons first, then about sports,” he said. “It’s part of the reason why we’ve had so much success.”

Recently, the boosters sent out 2,300 letters asking for support to fund the costs not budgeted for by the school, such as the cost for hotels, busing the pep band back and forth, meals and more.

The product of that request is the check that was presented Monday, April 29 for $5,000.

“We want to say thank you to everyone for the support,” Olerud said. “Because of the community support, we’re able to do all of this.”

In addition to Olerud and Murphy as Athletic Booster officers, Phil Griffin is vice president and Kristi Griffin is secretary.