Woodward-Granger High School requires each senior to complete a project in order to qualify for graduation.
Students are allowed an adult sponsor or helper, and must write a paper in addition to providing a detailed report on what they did, how they did it, what all was involved, etc.
Incoming senior Meagan Bandstra approached me in early June to ask if I would help publicize her project: an alumni softball game, the goal of which was to raise funds for any future improvements in Phil Creese Field.
On July 18 Bandstra’s project came to life, and in spectacular fashion. Over 20 former players signed up to play, and the current Hawk catcher’s hopes sprang to fruition. Most who signed up were from W-G, but the list also included women who had played for Adair-Casey, Ogden, DC-G and Saydel as well. All were, of course, welcome. The graduating classes of 1982, 1989, 1996 and many, many others were represented.
Players were charged $30 each, for which they received a t-shirt and the chance to take to the diamond one more time. A meal was held beginning at 2 p.m. with the teams practicing at 3 p.m. before playing a five-inning game at 4 p.m. Bandstra manned the pitching machine, and big hits, good plays and an abundance of laughter and fun followed.
With the entry fees and a donation bucket the event raised a goodly sum, money that will be set aside and added to whatever funds might be raised in the future.
Lessons were learned along the way. As is always the case when the first-of-its-kind event is held, there are things overlooked or misjudged, but those appeared to be at a minimum.
The players lingered around the field after the game, reluctant to have the day of relived memories end. Almost to a person they promised to return next year if another game were offered. They also swore to tell their friends about how much fun they had, hoping that enough players would show interest next year to have a four-team tourney and raise even more money.
ThePerryNews.com was all over the story, promoting it beforehand and attending the event as well. You can read the story and see numerous photos by clicking here http://theperrynews.com/just-like-old-times-inaugural-alumni-game-at-woodward-granger-a-real-hit/ The post reached almost 6,000 people via facebook, resulting in 20 shares of the link, 155 ‘likes’ and well over 1,000 visits to the story on our website — numbers that, considering the relative small size of the schools whose alumni were involved, were most impressive.
Those numbers demonstrate the potential of an alumni game. I received word from a few communities around Iowa who have held such games, all of which became instant successes and which are now annual events.
Perry should be quick to follow suit.
While the demographics of Perry would likely reveal that few players who were former Jayettes in the past 10 years or so are still in the city, it would not take much effort to find players in the nearby environs, especially if the event were widely publicized well in advance.
Any number of causes could be found for funds to be devoted to. Or, the game could simply be made a part of the Independence Day celebrations and be held on Paul Graves Field at Pattee Park.
Playing at Pattee Park would likely be critical to the success of the venture. With nearby restrooms, concessions and parking, Paul Graves Field offers amenities the PAC sorely misses, to say nothing of the much greater number of alumni who played their prep softball on the south side of town.
Many at the W-G event expressed their hope that the next time around the number of players would increase, and that finding players from other schools willing to have an afternoon of fun was an important goal. Again, Perry would do well to follow suit.
Here is hoping someone locally will pick up the ball and pitch this idea. Yes, some work will be involved, but if the payoff is anything like that from Miss Bandstra’s effort, the time devoted will be well worth it.