It’s the Panther Posse’s only fundraiser of the year.

What began as a small golf tournament 20 years ago with 10 teams to raise funds for one piece of football equipment, has exploded into a mega-fundraising event, the Panther Posse Kick-Off Classic.

Last Friday, 168 golfers teed it up at The Bandit outside of New Braunfels to support the athletic programs and more at Navarro High School.

“It’s a huge golf tournament,” said Panther Posse president Joel Frederick. “A lot of people tell us it’s their favorite tournament of the year.

“It started as a tournament to raise money for a blocking sled. Now we’re raising money for all kinds of stuff.”

Between sponsorships for the tournament, entry fees and the like, last year’s event raised around $100,000, all of which was used to support the athletic programs, athletes and students at the school.

“The focus is still on athletics, but we’ve done stuff for cheerleading, elementary, intermediate and we’re doing scholarships now,” Frederick said.

Thirty diamond sponsors and more than 50 platinum sponsors get perks for their contributions to the posse.

“The diamond sponsors get signs on scoreboards, the golf and everything that goes with that, and signage during the tournament,” Frederick said. 

Platinum sponsors get signs around the football field, along with the golf and related perks.

“I would say that 50, to maybe 75 percent of them have been with us for at least four to five years,” Frederick said. “If we didn’t have those guys returning year-after-year, then none of this could happen.”

Coaches, administrators at the school, cheerleaders, and wives of coaches and members of the Panther Posse were there, volunteering their time to help with the tournament.

“I think all of our coaches are here,” Frederick said. “Most important though are the 15 wives that showed up to help us out — they keep us organized.”

Golfers were treated to a helicopter ball drop before the tournament began, the chopper flying in over the practice green and dropping balls onto it with the closest to the pin winning prizes.

Hole-in-one prizes, closest to the pin and long drive, and donated trips, tickets to games and more for the silent auction were all part of the day for golfers participating at The Bandit. 

The $100,000 raised last year was a new record.

“It was our largest year by far,” Frederick said. “We hope to be about the same, maybe more for this year.”

Funds are handed out to programs at the school via a “wish list” submitted by coaches every year.

“The coaches come in and give a wish list to us, all going through coach Blount, our athletic director,” Frederick said. “We usually try to do two, one for fall sports and one for spring sports.

The Posse tries to accommodate other requests during the year.

“We try to fund as much as possible on those lists,” Frederick said. “Throughout the year we’ll have different requests, whether it be the scholarships or different school organizations that reach out to us."

Scholarships are given to deserving students for help with their college tuition.

“We had handed out six $1,000 scholarships,” Fredrick said. “But with the growth last year we gave out 12 $1,000 scholarships.”

“That’s pretty much it, it’s all Navarro all the time. We try and support Navarro all we can.”

Former athletes and coaches at the school, along with people from businesses in the area, made up the field for the four-man scramble. 

‘It’s a lot of different people we work with in the community,” Frederick said. “We just reach out to people we know and they come.”

Frederick has been blown away with the growth and success of the tournament.

“I think they had maybe 10 or 15 teams that first year,” Frederick said. “We’re pushing 55 to 56 teams every year, so it’s a lot to keep up with and really takes team of people to run it.”

“Just to watch it grow from my first year several years ago to what it is now — it’s been fun to watch.” 

Kevin Duke is the sports editor for the Seguin Gazette. He can be contacted by e-mail at sports@seguingazette.com

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