For many seniors, funding an increasingly expensive college education can be difficult. However, a variety of resources are available for Central students. Every year, the Naperville Central High School Athletic Booster Club awards five $1,000 scholarships to senior athletes who demonstrate exceptional school spirit and overcome great obstacles.
According to Darrell Carpenter, Athletic Booster Club president, the nonprofit charitable organization is dedicated to “helping the school’s athletic department, regardless of sport.” The Athletic Booster Club focuses on three main areas when it comes to supporting the Central athletic program: fundraising, finding volunteers and working with Central’s athletic director, Andy Lutzenkirchen, to help athletes in need.
“If we had a tag line, I guess it would be [that] we are all about helping the kids play,” Carpenter said.
To raise money, the Athletic Boosters Club participates in activities like organizing an annual golf outing, running concessions during sports games and selling spirit wear.
This year, the Athletic Booster club contributed about $38,000 in direct funding which helps pay for things like “indoor jump pits for the track team, warm-ups and jerseys, stickers for football helmets, pads for gymnastics,” according to Carpenter. In addition, the club provided $12,000 through indirect support in the form of scholarship money and funding J. Kyle Braid summer programs.
The Athletic Booster program offers four $1,000 spirit scholarships and one $1,000 Rick Jeffers Memorial Scholarship each year to Central seniors who either participate or support athletics, according to Carpenter. Applicants must fill out an application form and complete a short essay. A committee of five to eight people evaluates the applications and makes recommendations to the athletic director, who ultimately decides on the scholarship winners.
For the spirit scholarship, the committee is looking for someone who “lives and breathes Central [and is a] Redhawk through and through—someone [who] not only bleeds red, but bleeds cardinal red.” Carpenter notes that in addition to athletic participation, school and community involvement is necessary as well. He stresses that the winning candidate may not be “an all-state player,” but simply someone that makes a significant contribution on and off the field.
Meanwhile, the Rick Jeffers award is dedicated to former Athletic Booster Rick Jeffers, who passed away in 2008 from colon cancer. According to Carpenter, the scholarship is awarded to an individual who deals with significant setbacks in a positive way. Applicants must write a 500-word essay on a tough obstacle they faced and how they handled it.
“It is incredibly humbling to [read] these essays,” said Carpenter. “It’s a very difficult decision and to be honest with you, the adults learn a few lessons from the kids.”
To apply, submit a completed application to the athletic director by April 5. Scholarship winners will be announced at the senior awards banquet on April 28 at the Hyatt Hotel in Lisle.