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Guest Column: Saloon Night to be held at Two Rivers Cafe
Fundraiser to help with BHS track, basketball, tennis teams
Saloon Night
Terry Orcutt, Texas Hold’em dealer, at last year’s Saloon Night fundraiser. Courtesy photo

By Diana Cordova-Elliot

Fundraising can be a very tough job for public school teams, coaches and parents. How many bake and fruit sales and raffle tickets can you sell in order to raise the money that athletic teams need to compete and exist? Saloon Night is a fundraiser that puts the “fun” back in raising money. This year’s recipients are the Basalt High School girls basketball team, track and field and boys and girls tennis teams.

“Coming on in to win” has a whole new meaning at Saloon Night. Student athletes win by raising money to provide them with much-needed funds for buying equipment to keep them safe, as well as for lodging and transportation when they travel. The community wins by enjoying a fun and entertaining night out.

Sean Nunan, BHS athletic director, says that having an event that people enjoy brings all of the community together, not just the parents. The whole community can participate in an exciting game night. Nunan likens it to a return on your investment, in that your ticket gives you an experience, much like a night out at a concert with food and drink included.

“We have fundraisers so that the teams can buy that extra equipment, hire an extra coach or send athletes to camps as a group,” Nunan said. “Some teams fundraise by selling gold cards, participate in the ducky derby, sell mattresses or have email blasts sent out to parents asking for donations. Saloon Night is different in that it reaches out past the athletes parents and friends and into the community to invite them to join us for a fun night.” 

Hosting an athletic event can also add to a team’s cost — almost as much as traveling. You pay for the officials, the court costs and sometimes you look at adding to the track and field events. 

“We have never hosted a CHSAA [Colorado High Schools Activity Association] track meet at BHS, and I’m planning to do so in 2020,” said Coach Allyson Decatur, BHS track and field coach. “The cost of hosting a track meet is large. We have to pay for the timing system, the officials, the awards, trainers, etc., as well as installing new throwing arenas. 

“To have our first-ever track meet at home, it is well worth it,” she continued. “Both athletes and the community deserve to have a track meet where the community can see what great athletes we have at BHS.”

Traveling is also a large part of a team’s costs, in addition to the equipment.

According to Amy Contini, BHS girls basketball coach, many small items add up in a hurry. 

“I stepped into this my first year with a negative $500 balance,” Contini said. “I learned that we had to buy our own basketballs. A case of 24 basketballs costs around $2,000. Then on top of that, we cover hotel costs when we attend tournaments, which is around two a year and last for two days. We have around 23 girls, two coaches and our managers. That’s a lot of hotel rooms. I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy yourselves while supporting the BHS athletes.”

If you are a self-funded or partly-funded team, like the BHS boys and girls tennis teams, the costs are even higher. Not only are you responsible for transportation costs, hotels and equipment, you are also responsible for the coaches’ salaries, court costs and uniforms.

Saloon Night’s home is Two Rivers Cafe. Owners Rick Kane, Pat Breed and Audry Medina always help with community events and benefits, opening up their restaurant to help out groups and individuals.

Tickets include food, soft drinks and games, with a cash bar. There are several silent auction items, one of them being an Aspen Food and Wine Pass. There is no money attached to the chips, which you are given when you walk through those swinging doors.

The doors swing open at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Two Rivers Café on Midland Ave in downtown Basalt. For more information call Diana Cordova-Elliott at 927-4693.

Diana Cordova-Elliot is the head tennis coach at Basalt High School.