The Oak Bay Barbarians Alumni have raised $12,000 in this year’s fundraising drive.
Over the past 10 years, the network of former players has raised $80,000 to pay for the club’s running costs, such as buses and accommodation.
The alumni’s fundraising efforts started small, with dinners and collections, but have grown thanks to the power of the simple email list. Now wherever former Barbs are around the world, they can still financially contribute to the next generation’s success, leading to one of the most supportive sports alumni organizations in western Canada.
The organizers are Lance Abercrombie, Leonard Carson, Canada Hall of Famer Mark Wyatt and coach Gary “Jono” Johnston.
“It’s important we make every dollar count. People can contribute publicly or confidentially,” says Abercrombie.
Each year the organizers run a three-day fundraising drive. There are two main groups, the high-rollers who contribute amounts in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, and Jono’s Age Army who contribute their age in dollars.
Oak Bay is currently the top boy’s high-school rugby team in the province after winning the B.C. AAAA championships. The group of Grade 11 and 12 boys follow a rich history, with the Barbarians being consistently among the top four provincial teams over the past decade.
Supporters say the current players’ success is remarkable as the team hasn’t had a pitch to play on in five years, due to a messy dispute between the school board and contractors.
Johnston wants to build on the alumni’s successful fundraising efforts by connecting with other former players and friends of the club.
“We’re only in contact with about 20 per cent of all the guys I’ve coached,” says Johnston.