Sunday, Jun 25, 2017

Booster Club under new leadership

The Harvard Booster Club has seen a change in its leadership. Tom MacKenzie, who was the president of the organization the last two years and was involved in the club for eight years, has stepped away now that his youngest son, Michael, has graduated from Harvard High School. Long-time Harvard resident Phil Smith is the organization’s new president.

“I think we did a nice job of fundraising the last 10 years,” MacKenzie said. “Financially, I think we are in pretty good shape now. We have the ability to do things without skimping. When teachers or coaches would come to us, very rarely did we turn them down. … I’m pleased we have money in the bank.”

MacKenzie said he is proud of the organization’s involvement in the building of the new concession stand at Dan Horne Field; the Harvard Booster Club donated $10,000 to the building. He is now looking forward to letting others lead the organization.

“I’m looking forward to not having to sell raffle tickets, 50/50 tickets, things like that,” MacKenzie said.

Smith has been the director of information technology at Harvard State Bank for the last 12 years. He is married to Kelly (Jones). His son, TJ, is a junior at Harvard High School. His older son, Nick, graduated in 2014 and attends Illinois State University.

“We want to see [the Harvard Booster Club] continue to run smoothly through the growth of membership, growth of sponsorship and fundraising events we do,” Smith said.

The Harvard Booster Club supports activities and organizations at HHS, and Smith said he encourages individuals to seek out the organization for help.

“We really work way more than just with sports,” Smith said. “Most people think of the [Harvard] Booster Club on the sports side. We are involved in the academic side giving out scholarships for two students on the honor roll. We work with the band and music program. We work with arts and the chess club.

“We look for the leaders of these organizations to come to us and tell us what they need and let us see if we can find the assistance they need. The district does a good job, but they can’t provide everything. There are times when someone needs to step in and that’s when we look to help.”

The Harvard Booster Club raises funds from its annual golf outing every summer, the Castle Challenge in the fall and winter, and other events. The organization also supervises the concession stands and allows student groups to work to earn funds for their activities like the junior class for post-prom.

The organization has added three new members this fall, and Smith said he wanted to encourage additional members to get involved.

“We’re not looking for people who say yes to everything,” Smith said. “We want people to talk about if [a proposal] is good for the student body, if it is good for the school district. … We’re looking to support the kids, and we need help from people with different backgrounds.

“We want to keep the message flowing that we’re there for all the students and student activities.”

The Harvard Booster Club meets at 6:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at HHS.