Reed and Spanish Springs high schools have partnered with the recently opened Buffalo Wild Wings for the Spirit Challenge, a multi-day contest, raising funds for each school following the week’s hefty list of sporting events. Those attending any game at Reed this week will receive a ticket which, when attached to any order at Buffalo Wild Wings through Saturday, will donate 15 percent of the total bill to the patron’s school of choice. Buffalo WIld Wings will also donate $500 on Nov. 8 to the school that raises the most money.
Reed High Athletic Director Ron Coombs said the chance to fundraise with its local partner in education was perfect timing given the amount of people that will be flooding Reed facilities.
“I know with volleyball, for instance, we have had a really great rivalry with Spanish Springs in recent years,” Coombs said. “We normally pull in about $400 to $500 in ticket receipts. In the last two years, when we have hosted Spanish Springs we have brought in $1,190 in ticket sales. For those games, Spanish Springs brings a lot of people and we send a lot of people up there when they host.”
Coombs said the week’s fundraiser complements the two schools' year-long competition for the Mayor’s Cup, which covers all sports, JROTC events and more, and it will only add to the existing cross-town rivalry. Coombs said while the students enjoy being rival schools they keep themselves accountable and respect boundaries.
“You hear about a lot of the negative things that stem from a rivalry and that is not what we are trying to incorporate here,” Coombs said. “I know we want to beat them and I am sure they want to beat us, but ultimately we want it to be a respectful rivalry where both the schools are competing and doing positive things to beat the other school.”
Spanish Springs High’s Athletic Director, Art Anderson, echoed Coombs' thoughts and said the surrounding community, students, faculty and families have grown up to help keep the rivalry going.
“Our students and our staff look forward to the competition against Reed simply because of the closeness of the community,” Anderson said. “It’s one of those things that they like to compete in. They will have chants against each other at, for example, the volleyball games but at the end of the day they will all end up eating at the same pizza place.
“They have grown up with each other. The parents know each other and so it’s really the challenge of competing that brings out the best in the athletes and the fans.”
Coombs cited the expense of resurfacing the football/soccer field at Reed as reason for getting the fundraiser underway. With a price tag between $25,000 and $50,000, attaining the necessary funds has been an endeavor for Coombs and the Reed High administration for some time. He said the surface, which is watered through an effluent water system, does not grow very well and needs “heartier sod” to maintain decent playing condition.
“It’s frustrating from our standpoint because we feel like we have really outstanding student-athletes here and we feel like they deserve better than what we have. That is really the push,” Coombs said.
At Spanish Springs, Anderson said two projects are in the works where any funds raised from the Spirit Challenge will funnel into. The school is looking to revamp the baseball/softball complex to be more “spectator friendly” and it is also looking into a smaller gymnasium/utility room to house various sports and equipment.
“We are in the same position as Reed,” Anderson said. “Whatever we can do to raise the money, we will do. There can never be enough money for athletic programs and we are constantly fundraising. We are always looking for new equipment or new uniforms and fundraisers are hard to come by.
“Whenever a place like Buffalo Wild Wings steps up and says 'we would like to be a part of this' and find a way to give money back to the schools, that is really a huge bonus for us.”
Both athletic directors expect big crowds at each contest this week and added that students are buzzing around school with talk of the Spirit Challenge. Buffalo Wild Wings is also sponsoring a wing-eating contest between one contestant from each school during halftime of Friday’s football game. Game tickets can be handed in at Buffalo Wild Wings through Saturday and the winner will be announced Nov. 8.
"It is a way for them to demonstrate how proud they are of the school they go to, but also how proud they are to live in the community that they do," Anderson said.