Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect new information regarding the start of the bingo schedule change.
The board of the Smith-Cotton Athletic Booster Club has voted to push bingo games to the first and third Saturday of every month, starting in April.
The booster club is looking to “regroup, regenerate and grow,” said booster club board member Penny Pummill, who has been on the board for two years. Bingo has been pushed back because of little involvement from parents of current students. Parents of students who have already graduated are still members and want out because they have “done well past their part,” said Pummill.
The S-C Athletic Booster Club has created a new executive board consisting of President Becky Snyder, Vice President John Dick, Pummill as secretary and Kent Lang as treasurer. The booster club still wants more parents to get involved so bingo can eventually move back to its original schedule of games every Saturday night.
Board member Sharon Smith, a retired school teacher, has been with the booster club since 1997.
“I have stayed on the board for so long because I truly believe and support what our athletic booster club has done to assist our district and youth groups,” she said. Her job as the “team contact/group person” is to schedule groups to work the bingo games for a school-related sport or a local youth sports group.
Smith said the booster club voted to keep it twice a month in hopes to bring bingo back, but it has been difficult to find groups to work because of the Missouri Gaming Commission confining the bingo board to using a designated list of approved workers. In order to work on the bingo floor, you have to be on the booster club name list for two years. Pummill said the Missouri Gaming Commission and state Legislature are trying to change the criteria so more people can get involved.
Bingo has been a primary source of fundraising for Smith-Cotton High School athletics since 1991. It has allocated more than $2 million to S-C sports teams. The money has been used to buy new uniforms and equipment, covered renovations at the old Jennie Jaynes Stadium, helped purchase stadium lights for Susie Ditzfeld Memorial Soccer Field and more. The board also made a donation to help build Tiger Stadium.
Smith-Cotton Athletic Director Rob Davis said, “Hopefully we can drum up some parental support.” Davis also said having the extra money helps teams cover unexpected costs.
Bingo is important to S-C athletics because the district has limited the number of fundraisers it allows for each team. Davis said, “It’s to keep the community from being worn out financially from all of the different fundraisers.”
S-C head football coach Ryan Boyer said bingo income “helps open up our budget so we can have the equipment we need and helps cover costs for the team to eat after road games.”
The change in the bingo schedule not only affects S-C athletics, but also the players.
“It’s to have fun and meet with your friends and relatives,” said regular bingo player Pam Norris, who added that bingo is a fun hobby for some people and to watch it go would make them lose something they like to do. Norris is encouraging S-C athletes’ parents to “step up to the plate.”
Another bingo player, Teresa McMullen, said, “It’s kind of a bummer that this had to happen.” McMullen tries to come every week because it’s something she enjoys.
“It’s nice to help S-C athletics and know that the money is going to a good cause,” she said.
If the booster club does not get more volunteers and bingo goes away, Davis said there are backup plans for fundraising such as concessions, selling programs at games, advertisements and corporate sponsorships. Smith said no new board members have stepped in yet, but she is confident there will be people who will volunteer.
Jacob Kindle is a senior at Smith-Cotton High School.