Schools Sports

Conard and Hall Combine Forces for War-Chiefs Tailgate Fundraiser

Parents from Conard and Hall have combined to form the ‘War-Chiefs Sports Council,’ an athletic booster club that will host a ‘Tailgate’ fundraiser at West Hartford Town Hall in order to raise money for equipment and improvements to facilities at both schools.

conard hall combined signs

By Ronni Newton

Conard and Hall high schools may be crosstown rivals when they are playing against each other, but outside of those games the students and parents are friends who work and play alongside each other for the benefit of the community.

Now those families have formed an official combined athletic booster club – the War-Chiefs Sports Council – and will host a Tailgate Party on Nov. 15 in the Town Hall Auditorium to raise money in support of athetics at both schools. The Tailgate will be held from 6:30-10:30 p.m., and will feature food from Russell’s Creative Global Cuisine, beer and wine, silent and live auctions, and dancing to the music of local band Lonesome Eddie and the Bird Dogs.

When families from both sides of town formed “Unite for Light,” the committee that raised $250,000 to fund the town’s cost (the other $250,000 was funded by the state) of the stadium lights at Conard and Hall, they realized how effective it was to work together.

Now that the lights have been installed, and for the past year have proven to be an enormous benefit to the community, those involved realized how much more can be done by working together to enhance the athletic experience for West Hartford’s student-athletes.

The War-Chiefs Sports Council, which according to its website “was founded in 2014 as a natural outgrowth of the successful public-private philanthropic that led to the  installation of lights at the Hall and Conard outdoor stadiums,” plans to continue where “Unite for Light” left off, and hopes that this year’s Tailgate will be both as fun and as successful as last year’s event.

“Most, but not all of the Board, is made up of parents that helped raise money for the outdoor lights at Hall and Conard stadiums. We became friends united by our common hobby – our kids,” said War-Chiefs Sports Council Co-President Paul McConnell, who represents Hall.

“We’re trying to keep the momentum of the lights effort going. And it’s really great to reach out and connect with each other again,” said Steve Fisher, Co-President representing Conard.

The organization, which is a non-profit, has the stated mission of fostering “high standards of citizenship through the promotion of student athletic and related activities; and to augment the generous yet finite resources allocated by the Board of Education to support athletics at the West Hartford public high schools.”

To decide how to allocate funds raised at the Tailgate and through other donations, the War-Chiefs asked coaches to create wish lists and present them as a proposal. The group worked with Athletic Director Betty Remigino-Knapp, and Fisher said that depending on how much is raised, plans to fund as much as possible of the following:

  • Hudl System for videotaping sports. This system is used not only for recording games, but can be used by students who want to make recruiting videos.
  • New player bench seats for gymnasiums at both high schools.
  • Partially fund trips to out-of-state competitions attended by the cross country and cheerleading teams.

“These are some things that it’s great for the kids to be doing, and we’d like to be able to supplement and extend the town’s resources,” Fisher said.

“Our high school athletes put in a tremendous amount of sacrifice and effort to compete at the highest levels. They compete with affluent neighboring towns and Fairfield County and Shoreline communities that have tremendous advantages in terms of equipment and resources. This endeavor is to help level the playing field. We don’t need to have a weight room as nice as Darien or a stadium as big as Greenwich or uniforms as fancy as Glastonbury, but we want to keep us in the game,” McConnell said.

The War-Chiefs Sports Council is also about generating passion and celebrating one of the best high school rivalries in the area. “We want our rival to win every game except one,” said McConnell.

He doesn’t think West Hartford is at a disadvantage because our students are split into two high schools, both of which play in the largest division of the CIAC. “Rather than use a two high school excuse, we’d rather celebrate it as a tremendous rivalry that brings out the best in sportsmanship and competition. All of these kids grew-up playing on the same youth teams. They are great friends. This friendship brings out the stiffest competition and the greatest joy that can be experienced in high school athletics,” McConnell said.

“We are remarkably blessed to live in a town with so much ethnic and socio-economic diversity. Athletics has a way of transcending cultural and economic differences and this organization is a way for us to both celebrate and enhance this experience. It is also a way for parents to more fully participate in it,” McConnell said.

Tickets to the Nov. 15 Tailgate are $50 each, and can be purchased online through the organization’s website. There is also an option on the site for those who cannot attend but still would like to make a donation to the organization.

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