To have walked out of the Stryker School multipurpose room either hungry, uninspired or unentertained on the evening of April 1 was an impossibility. On this evening, the Stryker Athletic Boosters teamed up with the fledgling Stryker Football program for a spaghetti dinner fundraiser.
Having just completed its first season since the program was shelved 85 years prior, the Panther Pack fielded two teams…junior high and junior varsity. Under the tutelage of Head Coach Justin Sonnenberg, a group of kids who came into the fold having never experienced two-a-days, gradually began to gel into a football team. With the addition of donated items from other schools like goalposts and a scoreboard, and countless hours of donated time and effort from members of the community, the long dead Stryker Football program rose from the ashes to a new life. The goal remains to develop a Varsity program though, and aside from a need for more experience, more equipment is also needed to get the job done…hence the fundraiser.
The spaghetti and salad dinner was a great draw, but when combined with live and Chinese auctions, the event drew even more. Topping the event was a keynote speaker who once called Stryker home, Brock Mealer. Admission tickets were priced at $15.00, which paid for the meal, and five drawing tickets to be used for bids on the myriad items up for the Chinese auction. Everything from bird seed to autographed sports memorabilia was up for auction, including a big screen television. If five bidding tickets weren’t enough, more were available for sale, and those sales were indeed brisk. 210 admission tickets were presold, and the dining area was set to accommodate, but careful observation noted that more tables and chairs were being hurriedly brought in and set up, indicating that the event was drawing several walk-ins. The $3,150 in presale admission tickets is not the final total, but that final amount remained unknown at press time.
“We still have a few more big purchases that we need to make before we can become a Varsity team,” Coach Sonnenberg explained. “We have some practice equipment, and there’s coaches headsets, which can cost $3,000 to $4,000. This fundraiser will go a long way to help us get there. Coming into the first season, we had everything that we needed for our kids to prepare themselves for games, and to learn the game of football. Now, it’s just a case of trying to make the next jump up. We need some video equipment and some game day type stuff that established programs already have.”
As the multipurpose room continued to fill, Coach Sonnenberg said, “This community has been extremely supportive. They have helped us; we could not have made the progress that we did make without their help, their support, and their attendance. Their willingness to come support us tonight shows how great of a community this is, and how they support their school and their student athletes. I’m very thankful to be here, to be a part of this great Stryker community. I’m very proud to be their coach. This is a special community, and I think that this event proves that.”