At Eastwood, torn mat, safety pins lead to boosters reboot

J. Patrick Eaken

A torn mat in the Eastwood gym has led to the rebooting of the Eastwood athletic boosters.

In 2019, long time Eastwood football coach Jerry Rutherford, now an assistant under his son Craig, got tired of hearing about the torn mat. He went to attorney Kyle E. Wright, and just like that, the boosters are back.

“The one that we are currently trying to raise funds for is, in the high school gymnasium, is the mats that protect the players from the wall under the baskets,” Wright said. “There has been a tear in that mat for 10, 12, 15 years — I don’t know how long, and Jerry was making a joke at our last meeting that several people commented to him at every single opening day of basketball season that the tear is still there in that mat. 

“Of course, that is one of those little things that come with the budgetary concerns for the athletic department. There are bigger issues at hand, but I can understand little things like that getting thrown under the rug. But, that is one thing that Jerry said is going to be his first and last request. He got this all together and he said he would love it if the boosters would take on new mats and getting the funds raised to pay for that. 

“They have been ordered and we have already raised several hundred dollars now. That is one little project, but this has been a launch pad to tell the community about boosters and see the things that we are doing. We are just trying to improve the experience for the students.”

The boosters will hold its second meeting this Monday, June 14, in the Eastwood High School cafeteria at 7 p.m. During the first meeting, there was another “little” issue that came up, although to cheerleaders and their parents it is not so little.

“We had someone at the very first meeting say that the cheerleaders are forgotten about sometimes, but they are literally using safety pins to keep their uniforms together, and that is not something I would want to see the kids going through,” Wright said. “The big thing we are striving for is, this is not just about football. I know there is a lot of that thought because Jerry was integral in starting it, but this is treating every sport as evenly as we can to what is the biggest need.”

Wright said Rutherford was adamant about the former lack of a booster club, which nearly every other school in the area has had in operation for years, if not decades.

“When I met with Jerry, it was instantly clear to me how passionate he felt about this,” Wright said in a letter to the community. “Jerry and I talked about how much Eastwood’s athletic programs have done in so many people’s lives, and the positive effects it has, and continues to have, for countless people, myself included.  As a way to give back, Jerry shared that it has become his mission to make one last contribution to Eastwood Schools by getting an athletic boosters club started, and structuring it in a way that it can benefit our Eagle athletes for years to come.

“Needless to say, Jerry’s passion and excitement became contagious, and before we knew it, we had a dedicated group of Eastwood community members working together.”


From organizer to president

Wright, a 2005 Eastwood graduate with law offices in Perrysburg and Pemberville, is now the president of the boosters.

“It just sounded like a really good thing to get behind. Athletics play a really important role in a lot of people’s lives and everyone who is involved with this, from the board members to just the members who come to the meetings, just want to support that and further that,” Wright said. 

“The whole thing is when you look at the board it is a whole mix of people who have kids actively involved in varsity sports, and you have some that are not. Like, I have two kids who are 5 and 3 — they are a long, long ways off. I just want to give back to Eastwood because it did so much for me, and there are other board members who feel that way. So that is a good thing to see people come out and support that.

The other bigger issue has been the global pandemic and the lack of gate at major sporting events.

“I know the immediate issues that have been addressed there has been, of course, the deficit with COVID and they have been losing out on the gate fees from football, basketball and all those big sports, so there are going to be a lot of uniforms that typically cycle through every few years,” Wright said.

Wright said it is important to know that taxpayers prefer that capital improvements to athletic facilities be made through private donations or corporate contributions. There have been other fundraising corporations in the past that have raised money for Eastwood athletics, but Rutherford says there has not been a booster club since the early 2000s. The boosters club has already obtained its federal non-profit status.

“Both locally and comparing Eastwood to other schools its size, Eastwood has typically been one of the higher level schools when it comes to athletics,” Wright said. “I guess what is more important for people to understand is that we are independent from Eastwood Schools. 

“While we work in conjunction with the athletic department, (athletic director) Jeff Hill is an honorary board member with no voting rights, so he is certainly involved and the reason for that is if we raise money for batting cages in the gym, or say a tennis court, and then he says we’re not going to allow that. We have to be working together.”

The boosters club is open to all dues paying adults who are interested in the athletic programs at Eastwood.  Dues are $25 each year per person, and membership runs from the date of which dues are paid through the following May. For the inaugural year, dues paid prior to the organization’s annual May meeting will still be good through May 31, 2022. The boosters will hold meetings at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria on the second Monday of every month, excluding July.

“There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of my personal life successes can be attributed to lessons learned, friendships made, and confidence gained while participating in athletics at Eastwood. Nothing is more rewarding than watching our younger generations fulfill those same rewards for themselves,” Wright wrote. “Maybe you are an Eastwood community member or alumnus who has had a similar experience, or perhaps you have children at Eastwood.”

Wright added in his letter that this is “an effort to ease the burdens that our coaches and players face when constantly tasked with conducting fundraisers, all with a positive and encouraging demeanor…and this is exactly what we set out to do.”












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