A lack of resources is an obstacle for any public organization, but a select few have the benefit of a supportive community to help them rise above those challenges.
Barton Community College Athletic Director Trevor Rolfs will tell you Barton is fortunate to have such a community backing its activities and plans for growth, as several sizable donations to the department from private companies and individuals are helping with deferred maintenance on fields and facilities. Two local farm equipment companies donated three all-terrain utility vehicles, a mower and a tractor.
These items replace and upgrade antiquated pieces of equipment currently in use. In addition, these generous donors did Barton one better – they will allow the college to trade in the equipment for a newer model each year.
A local couple has also joined in the mission to support Barton with two $5,000 donations, one of them as an endowed fund, to help with the maintenance of the equipment and Barton’s athletic facilities.
“For many years prior to my appointment as Athletic Director, the department has been using one worn out utility vehicle and one worn out golf cart to handle game day activities and field maintenance,” Rolfs said. “Without question, this is a true blessing. These are things that cost a tremendous amount of money to buy and maintain. To be able to use multiple vehicles and equipment for those said purposes is just a dream come true.
“To those parties who made this happen,” he added, “we're certainly grateful for their support and understanding of our needs.”
The improvements to the maintenance vehicle fleet are a milestone in Rolfs’ ambitions for Barton Athletics.
“As an Athletic Director, if you aren’t constantly trying to make things better for your student athletes and coaches, you're going backwards,” he explained. “There isn’t a day or week that goes by that I’m not thinking about or putting plans together to improve our facilities or acquire the equipment necessary to train our student athletes at a high level.”
So far, he’s done just that, saying he hopes to keep the momentum going as he looks to future facility improvements.
Fundraising for Barton Athletics
Rolfs said he doesn’t consider himself a fundraiser as much as a community member, explaining that the motivation to help and donate already exists in the generous hearts of community members.
“Certainly as a fan of any college, you want to be proud of an institution and of its athletic program,” he said. “We have cultivated a tradition of excellence in athletics at Barton since it opened in 1969.
“I want Barton Athletics to be something that all our communities can be proud of; Similar to the efforts of many universities in Kansas, efforts to fundraise dollars to improve things for your athletic department go a long way in the effort to give folks good reason to be proud of those programs.”
Another recent development that has been in the news recently is a gift from Dr. Leonard T and Sheila Fleske that makes it possible for Barton to acquire a new basketball court floor, which will bear the name “L.T. and Sheila Fleske Court” for 15 years.
A vision for the future
As the department celebrates these steps in the right direction, Rolfs keeps his gaze on the next need. He said there are several major projects he would like to see pursued, but three are at the top of his list.
1) Track and soccer complex phase two: This includes an academic center, restroom facilities, coaches’ offices and a timing and media booth for the complex. Rolfs said it is difficult to host events without the items provided in phase two, which also includes additional bleachers.
2) Artificial surface on baseball and softball fields: Rolfs said most area colleges and universities are beginning to implement artificial surfaces for baseball and softball. He said there is a high cost to maintain grass facilities that would be mitigated by this project coming to fruition.
3) Indoor practice facility for outdoor sports: “This is more of a dream than an immediate need,” Rolfs said. “But this would be something unique, which would set us apart from most other college athletic programs.”
He said all three are big projects, but not beyond the realm of possible. Together, these projects would cost approximately $2.5 million to $3 million.
Though he is hopeful to continue making progress, Rolfs said he’s still blown away by the generosity of Barton’s communities.“I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for all those who have stepped up to support Barton athletics,” he said. “I just want to show my sincere appreciation for that.”