MFA Oil Foundation Supports Youth Sports Programs
July 19, 2018
Written By Callie Hanson
Youth sports are as American as apple pie. Participation in activities such as youth sports has proven time and time again to be a positive outlet for kids to develop healthy lifestyles and learn the importance of setting goals, working as a team and how to win and lose with grace. But rural communities are at a particular disadvantage with maintaining youth sports leagues due to a lack of funding, says Tom May, chairman of the MFA Oil Foundation Board. This is a primary reason why the foundation endeavors to support such programs in communities that cannot otherwise afford them.
The MFA Oil Foundation is proud to be able to support a variety of youth sports programs from community-driven programs to high school teams. Board member Kim Diehl hopes these grants give kids something they can be proud of and encourage higher participation in youth sports.
“Our youth are the foundation of any community,” Diehl says. “That’s why we have prioritized working with the youth and building from there.”
Many non-school-affiliated programs receive limited financial support and rely on registration fees and annual fundraisers. The Hallsville (Mo.) Optimist football league is no different. When the league’s president, Bryan Wildenhain, faced the dilemma of raising registration costs to replace nearly 12-year-old shoulder pads, he sought the assistance of the MFA Oil Foundation.
Wildenhain says his main concern is making sure players have access to equipment that will keep them safe during their games.
“Equipment technology has come a long way since the last time we were able to purchase new stuff,” he says.
Thanks to a grant from the MFA Oil Foundation, the Hallsville Optimist football program was able to purchase new shoulder pads without raising the cost of registration for kids wishing to participate. Wildenhain believes wholeheartedly in the importance of youth sports and did not want to exclude any families who may not be able to afford higher fees.
Like other rural communities, Bronaugh, Mo., has a small tax base and, therefore, a limited budget for extracurricular programs at its schools. For nearly 50 years, the school district’s high school baseball and softball teams shared the same field. The Bronaugh Athletic Booster Club received a grant from the MFA Oil Foundation to assist in its efforts in building a new softball field.
Tonya Cliffman, a member of the booster club, says she saw just how important this field was to the team and the community as a whole. Members of the softball team spent much of their free time assisting in the construction of the new field, which is also used by elementary and middle school students.
“The girls took pride and ownership in the construction of the field because they got to help build it with their own two hands,” Cliffman says.
The Jasper (Mo.) High School track program saw a successful 2018 season after they received a grant from the MFA Oil Foundation to purchase new javelins, vaulting poles and indoor hurdles.
Head coach David Davis sought out an MFA Oil grant to set his athletes up for success in the season, and it paid off. Jasper High School had three state qualifiers in girls pole vaulting and in boys hurdles and javelin.
Davis attributes a portion of his team’s successes this season to the equipment he was able to purchase for his team with the grant money.
“The new equipment is safer and more effective, especially for the pole vaulters,” he says. The indoor hurdles also helped his team keep practicing despite inclement weather.
“Youth sports are an important part of growing up,” May says. “They give kids the ability to work as a team, which makes them a more hirable adult.”