By Michael Mejia
Out of the gloom and doom of a $115,000 cut in the Albany Athletics annual budget, the Albany Athletic Boosters delivered the Albany “Save Our Sports” golf tournament on a glorious summer afternoon last Friday. One hundred and sixteen golfers descended upon the Tilden Park golf course in prime weather to ply their skills.
A 2010 torch red Mustang greeted the morning arrival of golfers and
volunteers. John Nakamura of Albany Ford Subaru provided the $25,000
heartthrob for the “Hole-in-One” contest prize. Unfortunately, no one managed a hole-in-one on hole 16 but AHS Golfer Miles Rabin got closest at 20 feet for bragging rights well earned. Also on display was a cherry red Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike donated by the AHS Mountain Bike Team and Solano Avenue Cyclery for the auction part of the event later that evening to very spirited bidding.
The day was festooned in the Albany High School colors of red and white as alums, from as early as 1952, teed off in Cougar red against the brilliant green of the Tilden fairways. Some came from as far away as Bakersfield to support the fund drive. And there were Cougar athletes in their jerseys by the dozens helping with clubs, directions, registration, and managing the endless details of such well-attended event. Fred Brown, AHS alumnus and Laney College golf coach packed the course, blessed with such dynamic elevations and stately pines, with the “shotgun start” after instructions. It was rumored that someone won, but that was hardly the point. Warmth and camaraderie seemed to emanate from golfers and community supporters alike for a wonderful California afternoon of sport.
Later that evening, the sports fundraiser continued with a dinner, raffle, and
auction at the Emeryville Hilton Garden Inn. The party, a capacity crowd,
was treated to a gorgeous sunset, with fine food and beverages aplenty. The
the room was filled with music by professional piano player Jason Myers to
wonderful effect. Again a fresh wave of the Albany athletes was there to
help out. The red raffle tickets were draped in long streams atop the tables
on the 14th floor as the excitement swelled the Top of the Bay room.
The objects donated — jewelry, art, rare sports memorabilia, electronics,
getaways, wine — were plentiful and fine. Once the tickets were pulled from
the big silver bowl, prizes just flew around the room. Auctioneer Tony Wise kept things hopping as auctioneer with his uncanny ability to nudge bids higher than anyone expected. Bargains were had, but bidding was hot and heavy for the weeklong Chatham vacation. It was decided to offer three different weeks to triple the funds raised with this one generous gift. The
auction was a clear success.
When the intention to create this fundraiser was brought forth in late May
the prospect for producing it successfully at the volume desired seemed
pretty dim, especially in this economy. Athletic Director Deb Wanlin and
Fred Brown brought their talents to bear to elaborate, simply, how this
could be done. What this group then demonstrated is that while each team has a number of folks who work hard for the kids, this event really brought out all the aces. In spite of vacations and jobs, things were very well
coordinated and handoffs found willing hands. Co-chair of the Boosters, Terri Jacobsen, was pleased that the infrastructure within the Boosters came to the fore so quickly and effectively.
So how did they do? After the bills were paid it looks like the Albany
Boosters made about $40,000. Not too shabby in this economy.
The author, Michael Mejia, is coach of the AHS Mountain Bike Team and an AHS Athletics Boosters volunteer