SOMERS, N.Y. – Somers Tuskers Booster Club, which funds athletic programs and awards student scholarships, is in need of volunteers following the retirement of its president, John Reilly.
“There is a volunteer shortage in the whole town,” Reilly told The Somers Record. “It’s going to be a challenge. In this day and age, parents will write a check but there are no boots on the ground.”
Though the club distributed a half-million dollars last year to enhance athletic programs in the district, the Boosters Club is mostly a two-person operation, Reilly said.
“We try to support the athletes, the facilities, the coaches as best we can,” Reilly said. “But lately it’s been myself and Linda [Morgante]. That’s all there is. We don’t even have kids in high school. We just have a love for the school and the sports.”
Reilly began volunteering with the Booster Club about 10 years ago when his daughter was a freshman student-athlete at Somers High School.
“I saw how sports was a big thing in her life and how it helped her maneuver all the difficulties in high school,” Reilly said.
Initially the vice president to Chris Ward, he took over as president about five or six years ago. “The two of us, we took it to the next level,” Reilly said of the Booster Club. He credited Superintendent Raymond Blanch for helping to “formalize a lot of our processes.”
Every year, the club awards thousands of dollars’ worth of scholarships to graduating seniors. Relying on donations and apparel sales, the club has also purchased items like championship banners, scoreboards, scoring tables and sound systems; contributed to the new baseball dugouts and a mural above the Snack Shack; and installed a brick patio near the football field. Sometimes, Reilly said, the Booster Club also purchases equipment for a student-athlete whose family might be struggling financially.
“It’s a challenge, it’s a lot of work, but it’s gratifying when we get to spend it on things like that,” Reilly said.
The volunteer shortage has Reilly leaving the Booster Club without a clear succession plan. “When my kids were young, there were waiting lists to volunteer,” Reilly said.
“It’s been 10 years and I think I put my time in,” he added. “It’s been a labor of love. I think new people need to step up and take charge. We don’t want it to fall to the wayside. Everybody’s afraid to be in charge. Just getting them in the door is tough.”
Anybody interested in volunteering can email Reilly at email@example.com.