A major fundraiser for the athletics and band departments at Westland High School not only has provided the groups with money to benefit their programs, but it also has created valuable lessons for the athletes and band members.
Both groups are completing their fourth year of installing and removing temporary seats for Ohio State football season-ticket holders. The cushioned seats are attached to the bleachers at Ohio Stadium.
Athletics booster club president Jeff Green and former athletics director Greg Burke estimate the groups serviced about 30,000 seats this year, which has raised approximately $80,000 for the programs. They hope to have the removal process completed by next month.
"These are the kinds of opportunities that we can do to get people to want to be with us that want to come to Westland," Burke said. "Kids get involved and they work here. People need to understand that Westland kids want to be successful, they want to do things the right way and this is an opportunity."
Through a booster club message board, Green first learned of the opportunity four years ago with IMG College Seating, which services temporary seats for universities around the country.
The athletics booster club receives money from IMG College Seating based on the number of seats installed and uninstalled, with the boosters then paying each athletic team that volunteered. The band also receives the same fees.
Green and Burke said the groups serviced about 23,000 seats the first year, a number that has steadily increased each year, and they already have committed to service the seats next season.
"We're hoping the athletes come down and work hard with the coaches," Green said. "It's team-building."
Green said about 250 athletes and coaches helped install the seats in the late summer and about 150 have helped to uninstall them.
Once the seats are installed for the season, band and booster club members work at five kiosks throughout the stadium during home football games, servicing the seats in case any problems arise or adding new seats for interested season-ticket holders.
Green and Burke said most of the Westland athletic teams take advantage of the opportunity, with the money helping each program to purchase equipment and uniforms and also help defray the pay-to-participate fee for athletes who volunteer.
Led by coach Rick Rios, who recently completed his first season at Westland, the football team was well represented during the removal process Dec. 16.
"It really helped us unity-wise in the summer when you bring the whole team in during the first week of two-a-days and work in the 90-degree heat installing seats," Rios said. "It was really good chemistry-wise for us. It teaches our kids a little bit of a work ethic. We also want to add new things (such as) equipment and uniforms for the program, and this gives us a chance to earn it."
Autumn Mundy, who is a member of the marching band and athletics boosters, said about 25 families of the 130-member band volunteered for the fundraiser this year.
Mundy's son, Mason, is a band member and her daughter, Hannah, is a 2016 graduate of Westland and former volleyball player. Both have volunteered for the fundraiser.
"This is amazing," Autumn Mundy said. "These kids work hard. It's brought over $70,000 into the school. You couldn't do that any other way. Westland is pretty impressive for being able to do this. Band fees are a lot of money. These kids are working off their band fees. It's over $500 on top of everything else to be in the marching band and these kids are working hard."
Boys team falls to North, Coffman
The boys basketball team was 1-7 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Upper Arlington on Dec. 21.
Westland lost to visiting Picker-ington North 79-59 on Dec. 18 after being outscored 21-10 in the fourth quarter. Gaige Holbrook led the Cougars with 13 points and Eric Panning added 11.
Kalil Camara scored 16 points and DeShawn Evans and Rece Evans each had 10 in an 86-46 loss to visiting Dublin Coffman on Dec. 14.
Girls basketball team looks to bounce back
The girls basketball team was 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Central before playing UA on Dec. 21.
The Cougars lost at Coffman 93-20 on Dec. 14 and at Pickerington North 71-15 on Dec. 18.
Bailey Garner scored seven points against Coffman and Hannah Kershaw had seven points against North.
Westland will play host to Franklin Heights on Friday, Dec. 28, and Briggs on Saturday, Dec. 29, in the West Side Classic.