2/27/2013 11:14:00 AM Sundogs to help Heritage 're-brand' in Cougar land
Hardwood for Heritage, a fundraiser sponsored by local businesses and spearheaded by HMS and the Arizona Sundogs, hopes to provide a new gym floor for HMS. A portion of each ticket sold locally will be donated by the Sundogs to the cause.
The re-branding of Heritage Middle School is underway, as school administrators prepare to retire the red and white Heritage Hawk in favor of Chino Valley High School's Cougar mascot. HMS also will adopt the blue, silver, and orange that represents CVHS.
The change won't officially take place until this coming fall, but HMS principal Scott Muir is getting a jump on things, including raising money to pay for the project, which is expected to cost more than $30,000.
"In my mind this change is going to promote a unified district," said Muir. "Where I came from, kids would look at the local high school and that's where they wanted to go. This will help that feeling by promoting pride, excellence and unity."
The steep costs associated with the changing of logos, mascots, and school colors come because of new team uniforms and new paint around campus. One of the major expenses of $12,000 is the repainting and resurfacing of the gym floor.
"This isn't just about appearance, although the new colors in the gym will really solidify the brand. It has become a real safety issue," said Muir. "We hosted a basketball game recently and there are some really bad sections of the floor. The kids were slipping and sliding all over the place. To my knowledge it hasn't been resurfaced in well over 10 years."
Muir said the school opened in the fall of 1993, and the gym has been the home to more than just HMS games. The gym also plays host to other school and community events such as band concerts, parent teacher conferences, and the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce annual celebrations, Home Town Christmas and the Health and Business Expo, which draw hundreds of visitors each year.
Muir and HMS have found a strong supporter in their quest for dollars with local professional hockey team the Arizona Sundogs.
Muir said Sundogs Merchandise Operations Manager and Chino Valley resident Satish "Catfish" Athelli came to the rescue, helping organize a fundraiser that has the potential to cover most, if not all of the floor repair costs.
"Catfish contacted me and said 'Hey, what can I do to help?' and he just took the ball and ran with it," said Muir. "This has really been his baby and I really appreciate it."
What Athelli, who has children who attend schools in the district and whose wife teaches at Del Rio School, came up with was Hardwood for Heritage.
With Hardwood for Heritage, the Sundogs provided the district's three underclass schools - HMS, DRS, and Territorial Elementary School - 100 tickets each, along with another 100 tickets for the district office and CVHS to sell.
Along with the 400 pre-printed, or "live tickets" to the March 1 game against the Rapid City Rush, the Sundogs also have partnered with several Chino Valley businesses that will be selling ticket vouchers to be exchanged at the Tim's Toyota Center box office. For every ticket or voucher sold for the game against the Rush, the Sundogs will donate $5 to the Hardwood for Heritage fund.
"They (the Sundogs) did a similar program last year, sponsoring Chino Valley Night at Tim's, and we sold 2,600 tickets," said Muir. "If we can do that again, that would put us at around $13,000 and our gym floor could be done."
The vouchers are available through Gabby's Kitchen, Striker Sports, Chino Rentals, Next Level Chiropractic, and the Chino Valley branch of Arizona State Credit Union.
The fundraiser was unveiled by Athelli at the Feb. 13 Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Luncheon, where both Athelli and Muir received an unexpected surprise.
"I was explaining the program to the crowd at the luncheon when Mike Tobey stood up and announced he was donating $100 to the cause, and challenged others there to do the same," said Athelli. "It was unbelievable. Others stood up and started matching his donation and it just took off."
Muir said he was amazed by the support from the community at the lunch who, along with Tobey, included Harvey Jones, Rhonda Chavez, Craig Brown, Rick Nichols, Tom Payne, Robert Alley, Darryl Croft, Don Wojcik, and Ron and Cheri Romley, as well as several other local residents and businesses.
"At the end of the Lunch, we had over $1,000 in donations," said Muir.
Muir said that while the gym floor is a major expense of the re-branding, buying and maintaining new uniforms would also be a big-ticket item.
"When it all comes down, you're looking at about $3,000 per sport," said Muir. "That's three grand for each basketball team, soccer, wrestling, volleyball, cross country, and track. We're looking at $21,000 in uniform costs."
In addition to this fundraiser, HMS uses eScript, a program that lets people donate to the HMS general fund at the grocery check out line. This program is currently in place through the Chino Valley Safeway store.
Muir says he hopes to add to the maintenance fund by offering $1,000 sponsorships to local businesses. With that tax-deductible donation, a large banner will be displayed in the gym honoring the business or organization, with the sponsorships up for an annual renewal.
For more information call HMS at 928-636-4464 or visit www.cvusd51hms.com.
Visit www.arizonasundogs.com or call 928-759-6600 for information on other Sundog games or community events.