BUCKHANNON – It has been a great week for the Buckhannon-Upshur archery teams and head coach Russ Warner.
They recently placed 12th out of 45 teams at the World Championships in Nashville (Tenn.), and they came home to Buckhannon and received a major donation from the ownership of Buckhannon Toyota.
Buckhannon Toyota president Jason Minsker, along with general manager Kip Cottrill, made a $10,000 donation to the team Thursday at a ceremony on the lot of Buckhannon Toyota.
“Making this donation is something we have been talking about for a while,” remarked Minsker. “The success of the program really drew us to it, but we looked and saw how many students are involved and how many people this archery program actually touches. There are a couple hundred kids involved and that made us think that this was something really worth-while.”
While the archery and air riffle teams raise money on a yearly basis, Buckhannon Toyota is the first corporate sponsor to affiliate with the team.
“It’s a good program and one we believe in,” noted Minsker. “They have been pretty self-sufficient so far and we just wanted to help them along any way we could and have them to continue to operate at the level they are at.”
Warner was appreciative of the donation.
“We raise about $35 to $45,000 for our program,” explained Warner. “Our teams are getting bigger and better and now we are going to nationals and worlds. It cost us about $6,000 to go to worlds per each team. So that is another $12,000 we would have to raise. I have never done sponsorships with businesses in town, but Kip called me and said Buckhannon Toyota would like to help us out. That was fantastic. They will be our sole sponsor. This money will now allow us to free up some funds and spend more money on our kids and our program as well as equipment to allow us to go to nationals and worlds. It’s a huge blessing.”
Warner oversees the largest athletic team in the county with nearly 300 involved in the archery and air riffle teams. The team has three divisions – elementary, middle school and high school along with middle and high school air riffle teams.
They are the largest 4-H program in the nation according to Warner and the largest archery program in the state.
Warner said the money will go to purchase not only equipment, but team shirts and tournament fees, as well as archery scholarships for all of the archery students who are graduating.
Warner says each year they graduate anywhere from six to 10 students.
“Each senior that graduates gets a $500 scholarship,” explained Warner. “We want our students to go on and continue their education. We are the only sport that does this for their athletes.”
Minsker applauded the teams for their performance at the world championships.
“It was a fantastic finish,” stated Minsker. “They have some really good archers and shooters to do that well and finish at a high-level. To finish 12th is awesome. We are really proud of them.”
Giving back to the community has always been a source of pride for Minsker, Cottrill and the Buckhannon Toyota family.
“It means a lot to be able to give back to the community,” said Minsker. “Buckhannon has been good to our business and it’s been good to my family. We wanted to give back and we especially want to help athletics and kids programs.”