Oak Bay track and field team digs in for fundraiser

Oak Bay High’s annual compost sale brings good earth to local gardeners March 31 to April 2

Oak Bay High track athletes Evelyn Jordan (left)

Oak Bay High track athletes Evelyn Jordan (left)

With spring in the air and a spring in their step, the Oak Bay High School track and field team is at it again.

The team hosts its 16th annual garden compost sale this weekend, providing a service to the community of Oak Bay and adding to its fundraising efforts for a planned trip to Florida in 2017.

For gardeners, the compost is a high-quality mixture of yard compost and cow manure, well ground and aging since October, making it all ready for the garden.

Sourced from Island businesses, the cost per bag is $6, or $5 for five or more bags, and the price includes delivery.

On the track, the team has had an illustrious record over the past few decades, having been crowned the Island junior champions 26 consecutive years and Island senior champions 25 straight years. Oak Bay has also brought home 10 provincial championships.

The driving force behind this dominant team has been Keith Butler, who built the program from the ground up during his time as a teacher, and former athletic director of the school.

For the past 20 years, Mike Sheffer has gradually become a bigger part of the program.

Even before the planned Florida trip, Oak Bay could be considered somewhat of a globe-trotting team, having competed at meets in California, Oregon, Australia and Cuba in the 20 years since Sheffer has been a part of the program.

“We do a big trip every two years, and last year we went to Hawaii. We went to Maui, where we trained, and then we competed in a track meet with about 20 other Hawaiian schools which was pretty fun. We’ve been to Florida before. We train there and we have the meets, and then the kids obviously enjoy Disneyworld,” says Sheffer, who took the reins as head coach as Butler has taken on more responsibility with the University of Victoria Vikes in recent years.

“(Butler) really is the architect of the program…he’s still helping out coaching our hurdlers but he’s moved more up into (working with) the elite people at UVic. When (he) ran the program he started this whole big trip (idea),” Sheffer says.

“It takes two years to fundraise enough money because it’s pretty expensive to travel … we pick a different place to go (every other year),” he added.

Given the currently low Canadian dollar, the team stresses its gratitude to those who have been kind enough to offer their support through the compost sale or other means.

The team will continue with its fundraiser, coming up March 31 to April 2, when the students return from spring break.

Sheffer also noted the importance of the experience this fundraiser provides, and what it means for the team going forward.

“It’s a neat experience because you see these kids working so hard for three days to get to do something instead of it being handed to them, which is cool,” Sheffer says.

“We find it’s a really good bonding experience for the kids. They learn a lot about teamwork doing the compost shovel, (and) training together so they really enjoy that part because it’s a whole team event.

“It’s important to remember that (these) are teenagers that are doing this. How often do you see teenagers doing hard labour, shoveling compost?”

To place an order for the compost mixture, please call Mike Sheffer at 250-514-2599 or email him at mwsheffer@hotmail.com