CONNECTIONS WINTER 2018

CHAMPS

MORE THAN COUPONS

Until this November, it cost the school over $1000 to procure a bucket truck to change just one of the over 66 stadium light bulbs. So to make it financially viable, the school would let five or six light bulbs go dim over a three or four year period before they would change any of them.

But in December, to our sports’ fanatics great excitement, four new Musco lights were installed around the HC stadium in place of the old six, all with lightbulbs warrantied to last over 25 years (goodbye bucket truck!). The four lights are more energy efficient, while also shedding 40 more watts per light than the previous six lights original to the track, now over 35 years old. Plus the new Musco lights are more environmental, since they better control “spill light” and glare, shedding their light directly down where we need it most instead of up into the sky or over into our neighbors’ yards.

“It’s well worth it—a definite upgrade,” said Bob Terpstra ’72, former HC Building and Grounds Maintenance Manager. “I don’t think many local schools, maybe only a few small Class D private schools, around are using these kinds of lights any more—It’s definitely worth it!”

All of this light updating is quite an expensive endeavor, you may imagine, which is why we’ve made due for so long. But thanks to funding given by CHAMPS, our athletics equipment and facilities fundraising committee, several high school teams, including the soccer teams, football team, lacrosse teams and track teams, all get to enjoy a well-lit field, without taking it out of our annual budget or hard-earned tuition dollars.

You’ve probably heard of CHAMPS mainly through their coupon books that go on sale every November, traipsed through neighborhoods by eager ZCS and HC middle school students and sold to customers at many local businesses. But CHAMPS does a whole lot more than create and sell coupon books. CHAMPS, which stands for “Christian High Athletics Membership Project Supporters,” is a board of approximately 10 volunteers who fundraise for special sports equipment and facilities at Holland Christian and Zeeland Christian. It was started back sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s (If anyone out there reading this knows exactly when, we’d love it if you’d let us know!), as school supporters realized how important athletics are for our kids, how they play a such an important role in preparing students to be effective image-bearers of Christ in their everyday lives. They see sports as building future area employees, since kids get to pursue excellence and integrity through sports; they also learn to balance priorities and how to communicate with a team, while also serving others.

But back in the early ’70s parents also began to understood what kinds of costs there are for promoting and encouraging first rate athletic programs.

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School supporters realized how important athletics are for our kids, how they play a such an important role in preparing students to be effective image-bearers of Christ in their everyday lives. They see sports as building future area employees, since kids get to pursue excellence and integrity through sports; they also learn to balance priorities and how to communicate with a team, while also serving others.

So CHAMPS oversees several fundraising programs, besides the 200+ page coupon books, including concessions at athletic events, a fall golf outing, and Maroons clothing sales. Then they hand over limited discretionary money to both HCMS and ZCS athletic directors for minor middle school athletic needs, and keep a running list of all the general sports equipment that needs updating.

“The main point of athletics is student growth,” said Dave Engbers, HCHS athletic director. “I listen to ADs at a number of other schools, and all the bureaucracy they have with all different teams, each with its own booster club, and with a lot more bureaucracy and red tape to go through. Every project gets voted on by the CHAMPS board, but it’s not political at all—coaches are generally granted reasonable requests.”

According to their bylaws, none of the CHAMPS money goes toward coaches or staff or officials, none toward transportation or uniforms, but they stick to the big ticket equipment items that simply couldn’t be purchased without their fundraising: stadium lighting this year, track pole vaults and high jump pits in 2012, a weight room renovation, baseball and softball facilities in 2011, new volleyball systems for HC and ZCS in 2016, swimming and diving equipment, track high jump mats for ZCS back in 2011—and a whole bunch more listed on two pages single spaced, just since 2009.

“As a coach, the things I do to help my athletes meet their full athletic potential would be severely limited if I didn’t have the equipment that CHAMPS has helped provide,” said HCHS boys swim coach, Todd Smeenge.

“I cannot say how much we appreciate the support CHAMPS has provided for our baseball program,” added HC baseball coach Jim Caserta. “It takes many people working together to operate a successful program and I do not see how we would be able to operate without their support.”

The CHAMPS coupon books are their second largest fundraiser, and are managed only with a lot of quiet donations and volunteered time both by the CHAMPS board, as well as others in the HCS community, often unlauded.

I cannot say how much we appreciate the support CHAMPS has provided for our baseball program. It takes many people working together to operate a successful program and I do not see how we would be able to operate without their support.

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Take Gus VandenBerg ’53, for example. A former HCHS math teacher for 33 years, Gus still donates over 100 hours per year to go around and collect all the coupons from area businesses before he creates the coupon books, edits all the proofs. He calls maybe three or four of the more than 200 businesses in the coupon book, but primarily drives around to visit each one.

“Sometimes a business will call me. A lot of places see me coming in, and just write down their coupons, getting them ready before I even begin asking,” Gus said. “They recognize me as the “coupon guy.” Though it’s still time consuming, especially the golf courses, since I drive out to Muskegon and over to Cedar Springs. I do get around, but I enjoy doing it!”

As a former HC track coach back in the ’70s before his youngest son was born, and yearbook sponsor, Gus recognizes the importance of extracurricular events to students. “That’s where you build up relationships in those extracurricular activities,” he said, going on to explain how he and his wife still appreciate Holland Christian for the community that it has created in their lives. They still get together with their classmates on a regular basis: “Not too many other school systems have that!” he says.

Marla (Langejans) VanIddekinge ’61 and her husband Herb, who taught and coached at HCS for 37 years, used to be in charge of the CHAMPS fundraiser meat sales, both selling, and then calling all the people who ordered meat to remind them to pick it up—quite a massive endeavor back in the days before group emails and texting!

“They were quite a group,” she said of the CHAMPS fundraising crew back in the 1970s. “We had a lot of fun together, and laughed a lot! The coaches and CHAMPS group worked closely together, and they all really appreciated each other—it was a really good thing for the school.”

Besides the annual meat sales, CHAMPS once held annual fruit sales as well, shipping up seasonal citrus fruit from Florida in donated empty Ellenbaas Trucking trucks, as well as hosted athletic dinners. But even though CHAMPS fundraising has changed, the hearts and commitment to HCS athletics has not—or our gratitude for their hard work.

“I find it simply amazing that I do not have to fundraise,” said David Kool, new HCHS head boys basketball coach. “This is an enormous blessing which does not occur everywhere—the work that CHAMPS is doing is a major benefit to Holland Christian coaches, and their help does not go unnoticed! We are definitely blessed here at Holland Christian!”

“The people involved with CHAMPS have selflessly supported our student-athletes for years— with their time, encouragement, and finances,” finished Caserta. “So many HC athletes have directly benefitted from their efforts.”