Sylvania group seeks funds for school athletic facilitiesWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wildcats and Cougars may soon prowl in a brand-new jungle.
The Sylvania Schools Athletic Foundation is planning a $6.5 million renovation for the athletic facilities of five Sylvania schools. The foundation’s list includes Northview and Southview High Schools and Arbor Hills, McCord and Timberstone junior high schools.
The Foundation plans to raise $4.5 million in private funds to finish the renovations and is seeking an additional $2 million to establish an endowment fund for Sylvania’s athletic and extracurricular activities. The tentative timetable is to begin building in 2012 and complete the facilities in the winter of 2013.
“We have a tremendous group of individuals including community leaders, parents and business professionals that are committed to getting this done,” Superintendent Brad Rieger said. “They buy into the vision that we really are building the next generation of champions. Facilities are really just a platform to let kids shine in different ways. These are challenging times, but we are a committed group and we are ready to get it done.”
John Ross, foundation board chairman, said people in Sylvania know how important education is.
“They know how important it is to support schools and support kids. We are talking about a multigenerational impact for our community.
“This project is about kids. There are over 8,000 kids in Sylvania schools and to know that they will have an opportunity to compete, play and participate in great schools with great athletic facilities is really exciting.”
What does $6.5 million buy?
Northview will add new field turf (for football and soccer), bleachers (for baseball, football and soccer) and field lights (for baseball and football). The school will also add an eight-lane, all-weather track-and-field events area, a ticket booth and a facility for concessions and restrooms.
Southview will add new field turf, bleachers, home stands and a press box for the football field, as well as portable stands for the band and a facility for concessions and restrooms. Southview also will add new bleachers for baseball and softball and additional soccer seating.
Northview and Southview will also add 32-foot scoreboards, which include a 10-foot-by-17-foot video screen and five different spaces to sell advertisements.
Arbor Hills and McCord will have their football fields upgraded to include irrigation and drainage as well as lights, an electronic scoreboard, a press box and an eight-lane track. Timberstone will receive mounding and screening for wind protection and fencing.
Among the major problems with the schools’ current arrangement is Northview having to share its football field with Southview. Although Southview has a field, it is limited to freshman and junior varsity play due to a small bleacher area.
“Right now the issue is we have both of our varsity football teams playing at one field,” Rieger said. “There are significant scheduling and logistical issues. There are obviously issues with Northview wanting their own place and Southview wanting their own place but it’s even beyond that. We want separate facilities so we can expand the utilization into different activities, sports and community organizations.”
The foundation plans to allow such organizations as Lourdes College, Sylvania Recreation and the Catholic Youth Organization youth tournament to use the facilities. Foundation Executive Director Jeanette Hrovatich said they hope to draw a national tournament to their facilities in the future.
Reaching private donors
To fund the $6.5 million project, the foundation is turning to private donors. Although the process is described as being at “the ground level,” the foundation’s goal is to raise $1 million during September. Hrovatich said the foundation is in discussions with about 40 donors.
“When you look across the country, I see no one else attempting to do what we are doing in a district with two public high schools to raise private money to help keep these extracurriculars available for kids,” Ross said. “This is cutting-edge. Things are going to change in how schools are financed. The time to involve the private sector into this has come. It is going to be very successful and a new way to look at things.”
The idea for turning to private donors came in 2005 when the board for Sylvania Schools began to look at rebuilding some of its facilities. At that time, it determined that taxpayers were growing weary of increased taxes and decided that private funding would be the best course of action. It created the Sylvania Schools Athletic Foundation in November 2005 to begin the process of raising private funds for athletics, hoping it would transition to continual tax levy support that would go directly to classrooms.
“I got a sense, along with the community, that for us to accomplish some things with our outdoor facilities we needed to go a different way with a different approach,” Rieger said. “That’s when this idea of raising money in a private fashion, for seeking corporate and individual donors to fund the enhancements, really germinated.”
To help raise $6.5 million, the foundation created an Advancement Council consisting of 42 community volunteers whose sole goal is to focus on the fundraising aspects and donor development. Among those volunteers is Jim Findlay, retired from his position as president of Impact Products, who serves as one of the council’s three honorary chairmen along with Rieger and Rick Stansley, chairman of the board of Innovation Enterprises, the University of Toledo’s economic development arm.
“Sylvania is a great area,” Findlay said. “We have great hospitals, schools and industry. I’m very interested in academics but I’m extremely interested in sports because it builds character and principles. It’s hard for me not to be a part of something that’s for the youth. It’s hard for me to say no.”
Findlay, who has experience as a youth basketball coach and mentor, assisted at the University of Toledo in finding donors for the Savage Arena renovations. He is retired from his position as president of Impact Products.
“We would like to give everybody in the Sylvania area an opportunity to be a part of this,” Findlay said. “That’s what we are trying to do — get the industry and residents to be a part of this school system. People will move into this area because we have great schools and great facilities. This will be great for the community.”
The foundation has formed a women’s initiative group, “Girls with Goals” (GWG), which is attempting to raise money for the facilities. So far GWG, which is still accepting new members, consists of 25 women from the Sylvania community. Its next meeting is at 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Chandler Café, 5648 N. Main St. in Sylvania.
How to give to Sylvania Athletics
To donate and help the Sylvania Schools Athletic Foundation raise money for Northview and Southview high schools, as well as Arbor Hills, McCord and Timberstone junior high schools, visit www.SupportSylvaniaAthletics.com (web site will be live soon). The website offers options to donate through PayPal or by sending in a pledge card, which can be printed from a PDF online. You can also contact Hrovatich at (419) 824-8656. The foundation accepts donations of any amount; donation levels from as low as $10,000 and as high as $5 million include varying rewards and recognition.
Foundation: Violations will not deter effort
The Sylvania Schools Athletic Foundation’s renewal project faced a scare when it learned Aug. 5 that Northview and Southview had received sanctions from the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) on its football programs because of recruiting violations. With the sanctions occurring while they were in conversations with donors, there was some worry that they may have negatively impacted some donors’ decisions about giving.
“It was a concern because sometimes people don’t understand the nature of everything that happens in a district or a community but we have gotten a really great response,” said Foundation Executive Director Jeanette Hrovatich said. “We continue to meet with people this week and next week. We are excited by the opportunity to continue to work on this project.”
Among the violations, Northview Athletic Director Chris Irwin was found to have violated an OHSAA bylaw when he gave new head coach Marek Moldawsky Jr. a list of eighth grade students from the three Sylvania junior high schools so he could contact them and try to keep them at Northview. The OHSAA reprimanded Irwin.
At Southview, head coach Jim Mayzes was found to have violated an OHSAA bylaw when he inquired where a student would go to high school while at McCord Junior High School. Southview was placed on a two-year probation and was fined $500.
“It did involve recruiting but it was within the context of Sylvania,” Superintendent Brad Rieger said. “We weren’t recruiting kids from Whitmer, Springfield or Bedford. It stems from our coaches that are very passionate about their programs and want kids to experience the great things that are happening at their programs. I want that in coaches, but they might have been a bit overzealous with how they acted.
“It was inappropriate. We will learn from it and get some training in place to make sure the expectations are spelled out clearly for everyone.”
Despite the violations, the foundation sees the upcoming renewal project as a good way to bounce back and make up for the athletic department’s mistakes.
“Anytime something negative or bad happens you can use that opportunity to grow from it and that’s what we are going to do,” Rieger said. “This new project is about creating projects for kids and building champions.”
Tags: Arbor Hills Junior High School, Brad Rieger, Jeanette Hrovatich, Jim Findlay, John Ross, Lourdes College, McCord Junior High School, Sylvania, Sylvania Northview High School, Sylvania Schools Athletic Foundation, Sylvania Southview High School, Timberstone Junior High School, University of Toledo