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While the winter sports season at Columbus High School is winding down, the Columbus Athletic Booster Club remains very active throughout the year.

Columbus boosters provide a much-needed financial spark to many of the high school’s athletic programs. According to club president Suzanne Zahn, boosters generated more than $20,000 during the 2016-17 school year.

“This number includes concessions, raffles, program ads, and some donations,” Zahn said. “Donations are happily accepted.”

Zahn said the club donated about $15,000 to CHS athletics last year and could surpass that amount this year, depending on requests. With school budgets tight, the need for financial help outside the district is always present.

“We don’t spend our funds on anything other than a coach’s request, except for replenishing concessions items and four $250 scholarships to graduating students who participated in athletics,” Zahn said. “We approve most coaching requests if they benefit the program and all of the athletes involved in the sport. The amount we spend each year varies and depends on the requests we receive.”

Activities Director/Dean of Students Terri Schumacher said the club is vital in its support of Columbus athletics. Some programs have individual booster clubs that provide additional support, but others don’t, so a little help is always needed.

“The athletic booster club’s main purpose is to help our coaches and athletes to give those supplies that aren’t given through the regular budget,” Schumacher said.

Boosters generate most of their funding through concession sales at events throughout the school year. A few dollars for a hot dog and soda could go toward supporting a program.

“Some years we have given a large amount for requests, like turf for the softball batting cages, football helmets, the mats on the walls in the gym and the bleachers in the park,” Zahn said. “Much of the money is spent on coaching clinics and smaller requests that athletics budgets can no longer support. Teams that don’t have their own fundraising organization especially depend on our organization for these items.”

Schumacher said boosters do plenty of behind-the-scenes fundraising that proves beneficial to Columbus student-athletes. For example, the club purchased Hudl, a breakthrough for both coaches and players. Hudl is a software system teams use to breakdown game film and chart statistics to improve execution in practice and games. Tim Dworak, the Cardinals’ varsity girls’ basketball coach, said Hudl has become an important tool in documenting each player’s role on the team.

“The girls have the ability to watch video on their phones, computers or tablets and the boosters paid for the subscription,” Dworak said. “The nice thing about the app is it lays out each statistic so you can see how many fouls you have in a game, the times you were out of position, but also all the good things you did as well.”

Through Hudl, Dworak can search a player’s name and receive a chart detailing every shot she took in a game. Players can also produce video highlight packages that can be essential when trying to catch the eye of college recruiters.

“Coaches have contacted me saying, ‘Hey, I saw this player on Hudl, what do you think?’” Dworak said.

Both the boys’ basketball and football programs also use Hudl, funded through the club. Dworak believes boosters spend about $1,600 a year for Hudl subscriptions.

Dworak said Columbus is “very fortunate” to have a dedicated group of boosters, providing help to all sports.

“They’re a vital part of activities in the community,” Dworak said. “If we can get a few more people involved that would be great.”

The booster club is always looking for help, whether it’s selling popcorn at concession stands, leading fundraising efforts or through donations. For more information on the Columbus Athletic Booster Club, contact Zahn at bszahn@gmail.com.

Contact Kevin Damask at 608-963-7323 or on Twitter @kdamask