Saturday, June 22, 2024
June 22, 2024

Windsor Plywood sponsorship boosts GISS athletics

Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) athletes have been given a big boost this school year thanks to sponsorship by Windsor Plywood Salt Spring.

According to GISS athletics program director and teacher Brittany Allan, the $10,000 will help pay for team fees, ferry travel, and new uniforms for track and field/cross country athletes and Grade 8 basketball players.

“Two thousand dollars of Windsor’s donation was set aside to directly support students and families in paying their team fees,” said Allan. “Windsor’s donation has been invaluable in making sport accessible to all students.”

Travelling off island costs between $6,000 and $7,000 per year for sports teams, she said, so the Windsor contribution was a game-changer in that department.

GISS has more than 200 students in grades 8 through 12 participating in 24 different sports teams. The fall season sees six volleyball and two soccer teams in action, as well as cross country, rowing and swim teams. Seven basketball teams are on the courts in winter months, with tennis, track and field, mountain biking, disc golf and two soccer teams starting up each spring.

Recent achievements include the junior girls basketball black team finishing first at mid-island championships and 10th at the Vancouver Island championships. The senior boys basketball team finished fifth at island championships held at Brentwood College School in Brentwood Bay this past weekend.

“Without community support, we would not be able to run the same quality programming we offer, leading some of our athletes to pursue athletic scholarships at the post-secondary level or a career in sport at the professional level,” said Allan.  

Jess Harkema and Adam Geddes of the Windsor Plywood Salt Spring ownership group said the decision to support the GISS athletics program came after GISS parent Julie Nowell approached the company last year about making a donation. They suggested Nowell return with a specific proposal.

“So they broke it down for us, and we all agreed to donate this year,” explained Harkema, adding that they would evaluate the decision and hopefully be able to provide support again next year.

As individuals who benefitted from participating in sports during their school years, the sponsorship was a natural fit. Harkema primarily played soccer, basketball and volleyball when she was a GISS student. Geddes was on soccer, rugby, track and ultimate frisbee teams.

“I think both of us spent countless hours before and after school, and on weekends, with athletics,” said Geddes, “and it sort of helped form who I was, making good connections and friends. And I think it’s very important both for mental health as well as physical, so for us, it was a bit of a no brainer, and we’re happy to try to support how we can.”

Harkema added that when a group photo was taken the broader community connections became apparent.

“So many of our customers’ kids are athletes, right?” said Harkema. “So we sat in the gym and it was like, “that’s that guy’s kid, and she’s so-and-so’s kid . . . it was a good moment.”

Nowell underscores the importance of Windsor’s support when noting that “participating in GISS athletics is becoming financially unfeasible for many families as the program is fully funded by team fees. 

“Our school has athletes that are already committed with post-secondary scholarships for 2024 and our athletics department is doing extraordinary things in building future leaders, both academically, athletically and in the community. Without continued community financial support, participating in a high school athletics program will be limited to those who have excess funds.”

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