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Time to give North athletes a boost

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Our local high school athletes put in the time and effort to reach some amazing accomplishments.

In our real world, though, time and effort don’t pay the bills. And while the local school corporations do an awesome job providing our student-athletes with what they need, it’s tough to run a quality athletics program without a successful booster group.

So if you have been thrilled by a student like North senior Cody Taylor, who won a state swimming championship in the 100 breaststroke, you might make a little space on your calendar for an April 12 event.

On that night, starting at 7 p.m., the Columbus North Athletic Benefit will be conducted at the kidscommons, 309 Washington St. Appetizers and a cash bar will be followed by a live auction and entertainment by the band Brown 25 (including Columbus North social studies teacher Jerry Mihay).

Over the past two years, the auction has raised about $40,000 to help pay for things that enrich the athletics experience for students at North. Neile McQueen leads this year’s event, and she noted that the North boosters play an important role behind the scenes.

“Our last meeting we bought a new baseball pitching machine, track batons and gave $200 to athletes in need,” said McQueen, who took over as director of the benefit from booster president Laura Grana.

She noted that the boosters have purchased things like golf range finders, new track equipment, cheerleading flags, touch pads for the pool and new volleyball uniforms. Money has gone to recondition football equipment.

McQueen, has a son, Chase, who is a sophomore swimmer, and a daughter, Samantha, who is a senior golfer. She has learned that a quality high school athletics program needs a boost financially.

“What happens is that the athletics department has a budget for the year and it does not cover everything that we feel North athletes need,” McQueen said. “We supplement that budget. We also help athletes who can’t really afford to be part of a team.”

She explained that the $30 ticket for the Columbus North Athletic Benefit just covers the expenses of putting on the event. But every dollar earned from the auction goes directly into the athletics program.

The first two booster events, which were conducted at Simmons Winery, drew approximately 150 people. McQueen said she would be thrilled with 175 for the upcoming event.

A key in reaching that amount would be the community at large understanding the importance of such an event.

“We have such a good support system from our North parents and athletes,” McQueen said. “The parents at North know this is a big fundraiser.”

Getting some additional support from the community, perhaps people who regularly attend North athletic events but have no children at the school, could take the event to a higher level.

“We wanted to jazz it up a little bit,” McQueen said of the fundraiser. “We’ve had people who have said they would love for it to be downtown with all the stuff going on. You can have a later night after the benefit.

“We’ve tried to have more excitement and some fun entertainment, so we added a band. We were sitting for dinner, so we went with more of a tailgate atmosphere to make it more of a mingling event.”

Those who attend are asked to wear casual clothes and Columbus North spirit wear if possible.

“There will be a lot of blue and white in the building,” McQueen said.

The auction will feature a wide range of items, such as tickets to IU, Purdue or Major League Baseball games. People have donated time at their vacation homes and each athletic team at North puts together a basket of goodies to be auctioned.

If you have an item you would like to donate for the auction, you can call McQueen at 812-314-1964. Items will be accepted right up until the date of the auction.

Don’t have an item to donate? Buy a ticket at the Columbus North Athletic Department or call McQueen for tickets.

“It’s going to be a great night out, and a great time to celebrate what our athletes in this community are doing, and what kind of fellowship they are doing,” McQueen said.

Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at or 379-5632.

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