by Jay Hoffman
Volunteerism is a pretty easy, yet very important concept. You offer your time or talents to benefit an organization, group, or person at no charge. It is on this very principle, along with a passion for soccer, that the Portage Soccer Club was founded in 1985. What started with just 6 teams and roughly 100 players has grown to an organization that now boasts 38 teams with almost 600 players ranging from Select to MRL playing divisions! This is an amazing accomplishment that is made possible only through the countless volunteers who are behind every aspect of the club from facility maintenance, concessions, mowing, coaching, fundraising, communications, and running the Portage Classic tournament.
The PSC is southwestern Michigan’s largest 501(c)(3) not for profit club. We offer the highest level of coaching to our player’s who not only have a very nice practice facility but also play on premier pitches at every home match. This all comes at the modest player fee averaging $335 per player. Comparatively, our rates are as reasonable as one quarter the cost of other local clubs, all due to the hard work of our volunteer staff.
As stated earlier, the concept of volunteerism is an easy one to understand, however, putting the concept in to day-to-day life can be challenging. Many of the “backbone” volunteers have been giving their time and energy for years, long after their children have grown and become adults. We currently have a few that volunteer because their “players” have grown and now their grandchildren have become PSC players, continuing the labor of love they have for the club.
To share one example of the countless volunteer hours spent working for the club, let us look at the facilities group. Each week, during both the season and off season, this group of individuals donates their time mowing, striping, and manicuring both the practice field and game complex. These 8 individuals donate a combined 1600 hours a year, and this is just one facet of the many areas behind the scenes. To put this into a financial perspective think of it in these terms: If we paid for these services, 1600 hours at a conservative rate of $35-$45 per hour the total ranges from $56,000 to $72,000 in just field preparation and maintenance.
On a personal note, my daughter was welcomed into the club in the spring of 2011. I immediately felt the excitement of the team and parents, as well as my daughter’s excitement for her new sport. I soon noticed her coach, and several parents from the team, who served the club in different areas. I joined the tournament committee and also became VP of Uniforms. Through my volunteer work I have gained many friendships along with the satisfaction of helping the good of the club and being part of an organization that has a great sports philosophy and that I am proud to be affiliated with.
That being said, the club cannot continue to grow and uphold our great foundation without new and continued volunteers. There are volunteer opportunities for everyone at the PSC whether you only have 1 hour to offer per week or 5, whether you can volunteer on a long term basis or only volunteer for one project. My hope is that every parent will take a moment to think about the talents that they could contribute to our club and act on it.