It’s been only four years since Flagler College first launched the Flagler Athletic Boosters Club, but in that time, the group has already raised almost $490,000 to help benefit Flagler’s sports teams that are now competing in NCAA Division II.
The boosters club was created in 2004 while Flagler athletic teams were still qualifying for NAIA Tournaments and the NCAA was but a murmur going around the administration.
“The expenditure of teams would go up with the move to Division II, and that was a reason why we started talking about the boosters club,” said club President Alan Bratic, ‘97. “It wasn’t the main reason, but it was kind of like, ‘Hey, we are going to being moving within a year or two, and we want to have this availability for the athletic programs to be able to raise money.’ ”
Bratic, who attended Flagler as a scholarship soccer player, took over as booster club president in 2005. He said the thought from the outset was to have the booster club going strong by the time a decision came on Division II.
“The main thing that we are proud of is working with the coaches and helping them fundraise,” Bratic said. “Really raising the money and the ability to go out into the community and get corporate sponsors, that has made a big difference versus previously. In turn, we use that money to help the sports get what they need.”
Corporate sponsorships have been crucial to the fundraising of the boosters. Previously, Flagler Athletics had minimal funding coming from area businesses.
“We’ve made great progress,” Assistant Athletic Director and Women’s Basketball Coach Sherri Abbey Nowatzki said. “We’ve got 15-20 corporate sponsorships. That’s huge because those are more of your major donors that are giving to athletics, and that goes directly into the overall athletic budget.”
Nowatzki believes that corporate sponsorship has great potential to help Flagler Athletics.
“We’re just skimming the surface,” she said. “Corporate sponsors, in my opinion, that’s going to be the wave of the future to tap into. Those are going to help with facilities as well: new bleachers, new major facilities that we need as we go Division II and into the Peach Belt Conference.”
The booster club has set up a variety of ways that students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the community can help.
Joining the boosters is one way. The rates are minimal for students faculty and staff, and in 2009, the rate for alumni will drop from $75 to $50, making the commitment more affordable for those that want to help support their Saints.
“Especially for younger alumni, its not easy to put down $200 or even $75, so $50 just felt like it was a good level to get some more alumni involved in it,” Bratic said.
A booster club golf outing was also established this year. The first incarnation over freshmen weekend raised nearly $5,000. The boosters also hold Red Zone functions at Flagler home athletic events at least once per team per season. A silent auction is also planned once the economy turns around.
“The goal would be to get where we can provide $100,000 and above in annual support to athletics,” Bratic said. “The good thing about the booster club is that a lot of people are excited about it, but the tough side is we need more volunteers.”
Bratic believes alumni are crucial to the club’s success.
“Good alumni giving helps the college succeed,” he said. “It’s absolutely imperative for that to happen. Most of the alumni have been to a game or two at Flagler. I wouldn’t say all, but most. With us going Division II, their support is absolutely necessary.”
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