In March of 2021, Drew Central Athletic Director Michael Goad was attending an Athletic Director’s Conference when he began to ask questions as to why certain schools were able to get certain things done for their prospective programs while other schools were not able to get the funding or at least the means to get their own projects off the ground.
While discussing this topic with other athletic directors at the conference, the seeds of starting a Pirate Nation Foundation were born.
After returning from the conference, Coach Goad began discussing the idea of the foundation with Drew Central Superintendent Kimbraly Barnes, who had also been asking advice and sharing ideas from other superintendents from around the state in conferences that she had attended.
The wheels had been put into motion for the creation of the Pirate Nation Foundation with both Mrs. Barnes and Coach Goad in agreement. The question at this point was the steps to get the idea to become reality.
For Coach Goad, he began doing research on the foundation becoming a legitimate non-profit 501c3 tax write-off for people contributing to the foundation. Goad also began getting ideas from other athletic directors and coaches that had set up similar plans at their schools.
Drew Central has made many improvements to their campus over the years without the help of mileage increases and hope to continue that trend as the foundation begins to grow.
“We are very excited about this investment in our school district,” Barnes said. “This project will involve students and our community.”
After presenting their plan to the Drew Central School Board, the board approved that they could begin the process of going out and talking to potential donors to see what the interest was to actually get the foundation going. In early September of 2021, the first project was put into action with a 52-week gun raffle where chances were offered for $100 tickets to be entered into the contest for the chance to win a gun for 52 weeks with your name never leaving the drawing pool even if you were lucky enough to have your ticket drawn.
The 52-week raffle was a huge success for the foundation, showing that the interest in supporting the program was high.
In January of 2022, the athletic department held a meeting to discuss what direction the foundation should take with their first project and at the end of the meeting it was determined that the first act should be to turf the football field.
Even when discussing how to increase enrollment and grow the school with other superintendents at a conference, Mrs. Barnes was being told the same thing, starting with turfing the football field.
With the direction of the foundation’s first project decided, the project would not only include the turfing of the football field but also the baseball and softball fields as well.
“Another positive note about this project is the cost savings we will experience in the maintenance department,” Barnes said.
Along with the turf, the football field will also be set up within specification dimensions to create a soccer field as well as adding a walking track around the field that will provide not only faculty but also a safe environment for the community to use for exercise.
“We want the community to know that this is a partnership that will build a better culture and can allow us to better support each other,” Goad added.
This project will be the largest investment in the Drew Central Football program since it began in 2007. With the new technology and engineering of turf, the hope if for less students to be injured while playing on the field and to allow the field to be used at all times, regardless of unpredictable weather.
With the turf project at the softball and baseball complex, the mound at the baseball field will be designed to be moved as far down as to provide little league play on the field as well as being able to remove the mound altogether to be able to host multiple softball games for tournament play.
The foundation has already made an investment in the school with the money raised from the gun raffle. With the money raised from the raffle, the school has been able to provide pre-game meals for all programs, purchase every athlete in grades 7-12 in every sports program game shoes, provided catering for parent teacher conferences, sponsored a Special Olympics bowling trip, and also sponsored Girl’s State participants during the summer.
In order to become a foundation sponsor, there are four levels with the Diamond plan being the highest level at $5000 annual commitment, the Gold plan with a $3000 commitment, the Silver plan with a $1000 commitment, and the Bronze package with a $500 annual commitment.
All packages are described in detail with a brochure that can be obtained at the school or can be viewed at www.dcpiratenation.com.
One thing that may be noticed with the name of the foundation is that the word “athletic” is not found in the name. This is because the foundation is being set up not to only benefit the athletic programs at Drew Central but is designed to fund projects to help the entire student body and the community by improving different areas of the Drew Central Campus over time and providing activities that can be enjoyed by all students, not just the athletes. It will also help to benefit non-school sponsored events such as community pee-wee programs.
As of July 31, the foundation has met its financial goal that was set in place to get the turf projects started and the Drew Central School Board has approved the project to begin with the hopes of getting the softball and baseball projects started in mid-fall in order to be ready for the 2023 season and with football turf project hoping to begin sometime in the spring.
The drive process for securing sponsors was hands-on with Coach Goad and others visiting area businesses, sitting with them discussing the foundations plans and going over in detail each tier of sponsorship all while getting to know the local businesses and people that are supporting the program.
During these visits with the businesses, Coach Goad has also learned of possible job opportunities with businesses that he has passed on to Drew Central graduates in order to help the former students find employment opportunities.
Both Mrs. Barnes and Coach Goad are very grateful to the businesses and individuals that have already sponsored the Pirate Nation Foundation. They wish to thank those participants as well as those that are considering making the investment in the foundation and to the Drew Central School District.
Committed sponsors to the Pirate Nation Foundation include:
Ellis and Son
Carpenter and Son
Maxwell Hardwood Flooring
And Dr. Julie Nicholson
Griffin Heating and Air
Chris Bryant State Farm
Mainline Health Systems
South Arkansas Rehab
Edward Jones - Jay Jones office
One 11 Southern Graphics
Patrick’s Speed D Lube
Dr. Jason Cater
Arkansas Superior Federal Credit Union
Rich Westhelle Family
Robert Cavaness Family
Drew Central Class of 1970
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