Mobridge Rotarians hear history, progress of MYO

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By Peg Wunder

Mobridge Rotary President Harley Overseth (right) presents Peg Wunder with a document and pin recognizing her as a Paul Harris Fellow. The award is from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

Mobridge Rotary President Harley Overseth (right) presents Peg Wunder with a document and pin recognizing her as a Paul Harris Fellow. The award is from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

Marc McClellan presented a program at Rotary Monday, May 12, about Mobridge Youth Organization (MYO) from its very beginning with some of the highlights over the years.
It all started with three young ladies approaching Byron Utter in 1994 and asking him to coach a softball team. In the first year they upgraded the old softball diamond and played there. The next year, 1995, 50 girls came out to play softball. The program was so successful that Byron was asked to set up a boys’ baseball program and to take over the T-ball program for little boys. The goal set in 1995 is that “every child in the program plays.” The emphasis is on each child learning the rules. MYO has always been short of money so all types of fundraisers and doing whatever they could to raise money was necessary. For a time concessions were sold from the back of a truck, there was trash pick-up of roadside ditches, car washes and MYO ran junior varsity events such as football, volleyball and track. They added bingo, held the DQ Classic and even cleaned fish that were donated to them for a fish fry. The volunteers were comprised of not just parents of the children in the program, but plenty of people who saw how important this program was to the children and to the town of Mobridge.
Two structures were built by this group. A storage shed was built adjacent to the tennis courts to store equipment for the various teams. Marc commented that lots of people stored equipment for various programs in their basements and with the construction of the storage shed all the equipment was in one place. The program was expanded to include basketball, volleyball, football, soccer, tennis and drama. Lots of young people from out of town started asking to be allowed to join the program. Thirty thousand dollars was spent to get the youth football program started. Right now 175 kids are signed up with 90 from out of town. Football is the most popular sport in MYO. Several of the towns whose youngsters are coming in for the program have helped pay for equipment. It was necessary to put in place a rule. Teams practice one hour and then play. Lots of parents want to coach football and were scheduling extra practice time. It was necessary to limit practices just on the days the teams came in Mobridge.
MYO bought a 20-seat bus, which is used by the various teams and can be rented by other groups. The Mobridge Teeners Baseball Team use the bus to get to their out of town games.   Rotary built a shed at Tiger Stadium and MYO built a new attached concession stand with adequate electrical outlets. As many of the junior varsity events are held on weekdays, there was a problem with manning the concession stand, so Joyce McClellan assumed the task of finding women who could help man it on school days. It ended up that a few men also volunteered to work the concession stand. Denise Hoffman ran the stand for 10 years and Lynn Kuhl is now in charge.
Mobridge has not been allowed to host a state baseball tournament because there were no lights at the ballpark (Legion Memorial Field). MYO set out to get lights. The bid came in at $100,000 with the city helping with getting it paid off. The 3B tax also contributed to the drive to pay for lights. In March, 2014, the debt for the lights was paid and now we are eligible to host a tournament. Businesses have been, and hopefully will continue to be, supportive of the program which is good for the youngsters of the area and has been very beneficial to the merchants of Mobridge.
In March each year there is a sign-up fee of $30 per youngster to enter the MYO program. They can play in several of the programs during the year.  There are no extra fees or charges, but parents are asked to volunteer time to make the program successful.
MYO Bingo is a big event in the spring. The first year $6,000 was made. Marc said they appreciate all the people, especially the “cute little old ladies” who have been ardent supporters of Bingo Night ever since it started.
The DQ Classic has been very popular. MYO started their own tournament, thus making it no longer necessary to travel out of town to other tournaments and having to pay hotel and meal costs. The DQ Classic is limited to about 60 teams. They play 100 games in one day and every gym is used that day. Ten games are played at one time in the various venues. The middle school event attracts 14 teams with three busses bringing children in from Central High School in Aberdeen.
This year over 300 youngsters have signed up. Soccer has 90 signed up, baseball and softball have 175, football has 175, volleyball has 40 with 30 in drama and 30 in tennis.
Byron Utter started MYO and Roger and Denise Hoffman have kept it going.  It is estimated that MYO has raised and spent over one million dollars on this sports program for the youth during the 10 years it has been in existence. High school students have been more than helpful by volunteering to work with the youngsters.
Chris Fried is the current president, Heather Stoick is vice president, and Misti Henderson is the secretary-treasurer. Other board members are Josh Henderson, Stacy Bauer and Kristi Eisemann.
Marc’s mother, Joyce McClellan, was recognized as a guest.
Haden Merkel, Chamber Executive Director, made some announcements. This weekend is graduation. Dashes for Splashes will be held this week-end with the run on Friday and the bike-a-thon on Saturday with all proceeds going to the outdoor pool fund.  Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Scherr Howe is the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater with tickets at $20 per person. Pizza Ranch will have a talk about the landfill at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Cindi Volk will present the Rotary Scholarship Wednesday at the awards ceremony at school.
President Harley Overseth announced that next Wednesday the Relief Fund for the Ranchers will close. More than $5 million was raised which will go to aid over 600 farm families
Peg Wunder received a pin and a document stating that she is now a Paul Harris Fellow. The award is from The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and was presented by President Harley Overseth.

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