Lions, wrestling team a great match

    It all started innocently enough 12 years ago, but what a terrific community event it has become.

    Thanks to a hard-working and creative head wrestling coach and the generosity of the Droulliards, Fred and Linda, and the Miami Springs Lions Club, the Miami  Springs High School Wrestling BBQ took place last month at the Lions Club on Swallow Drive, the 13th edition. And it was anything but unlucky.

    “Every year I can’t express my gratitude enough to Fred, Linda, the Lions Club and all of the people associated with the club for everything they’ve done for our program,” said Ryan. “This really has turned into a nice community event and a vital instrument for us being able to continue to put a competitive product on the mats every year.”

    But don’t let Ryan fool you. As much help as the Lions Club has provided, his foresight and ability to organize his wrestlers and get them out there hustling every September to sell the $10 tickets for the October event that has played a big part in the event’s success as well.

    “To be honest, I really didn’t know much about it until one of his kids came knocking on our door one day,” said Miami Springs police officer Charlie Schubert, who was there with his wife and daughter. “I can’t begin to tell you how polite and well-spoken he was and we thought, how could we not buy some tickets and help out. And we’re really glad we did because this is a nice event with lots of people we know.”

    Indeed, the Lions Hall, despite it being a terribly rainy day, was packed to the hilt with hungry mouths to feed and a wrestling program to support.

    Led by hard-working (isn’t she always?) Betty DuBois and a long cast of volunteers, including Irene Priess, Laynee Riedenger and Sydney Garton (sorry if I didn’t get all of the ladies), there was loads of delicious food to serve, along with entertainment, prizes and raffles.

    “I’ll never forget how it all got started,” said Fred Droulliard. “Linda’s son was wrestling for Coach Ryan at the time and one day we walked into the breezeway at the high school and saw Dave selling donuts. Linda looked at me and said, there has got to be a better way for this poor man to raise money for his team and why don’t we see what we can do.”

    And thus, the Inaugural MSSH Wrestling BBQ fundraiser was born in 1999 and it has gathered a slew of momentum ever since.

    “Sold a record number of tickets this year and raised close to $5,000 for the program,” said Ryan, who made sure that we mention the help he’s received from Nancy Mathis over the years. “She’s been my right hand through all of this and I can’t thank her enough.”

    He also certainly was not going to ignore another key ingredient to the event’s success as well, and that would be the sponsors.

    “Even with the efforts of the Lions, none of this really gets done without the help and support of the community businesses,” said Ryan.

    There are so many athletic programs at Miami Springs Senior High School suffering these days (cross country and swimming were cut altogether for budgetary reasons last September) that you wish each and every coach could have the opportunity Ryan has enjoyed.

    The average Joe probably doesn’t realize these days that if you run a high school athletic program, no matter what the sport, you’re pretty much on your own to raise money for your program. The days of going to an athletic director to cut you a check if you need something? Long gone.

    But, make no mistake about it, this has only worked because of the hard work Ryan has put into it to make it work.

    So here’s a shout-out and a pat on the back to the Droulliards, the Miami Springs Lions Club, Dave Ryan, his wrestlers and everyone else associated with the success of the annual wrestling BBQ fundraiser.

    It’s a terrific example of the community and the high school working hand in hand for the betterment of the kids in our community.