The Edison Community & Sports Foundation has been supporting the high school’s athletes and musicians since its inception in 1984. One of its biggest fundraising events is its annual golf tourney, held this year on Monday, July 30. Just before noon, 36 foursomes, many of them Edison alumni, teed off in a scramble start in at Columbia Golf Course.
The event is known officially as The Art Solz/Frank Rog Memorial Golf Tournament, honoring two former Edison athletes who were active foundation members during their lives. The tournament, now in its 33rd year, was played for a number of years at Gross golf course, and Chomonix in Lino Lakes, returning to Columbia in 2015. Many alumni played or worked here as teen-aged caddies.
The foundation grew out of a movement in 1983 to honor baseball and football coach Pete Guzy by establishing an “Edison Hall of Fame,” with Guzy as the first inductee. The Edison Sports Foundation was formed (its name later changed to the Edison Community & Sports Foundation), and currently has a 25-member board of directors who volunteer their time for the annual Hall of Fame Night and the administration of the scholarships program. More than 150 athletes have been inducted in to the Hall of Fame, and an equal number of scholarships have been awarded, totaling more than $700,000. The foundation also publishes a quarterly newsletter, keeping Edison alumni apprised of related events.
Board member Jon Vandermyde, class of 1958, said 70 sponsors, mostly local businesses, helped finance the event. He added, “The players are mostly Edison alumni, which is good because it brings alumni support back to where it’s needed.” Foam board signs at each tee bore the names of tournament sponsors, which were corporate, alumni or memorials. He added that planning for each year’s event begins in January. On the Friday before the tournament, Vandermyde was asked about the weather forecast. His reply,: “We have this event every year on the last Monday in July; in 32 years, we’ve never had a rainout.”
Make that 33. Under a cloudless sky, Edison baseball team volunteers hoisted clubs from car trunks and placed them into carts. When the golfers got seated, club worker Brady Larson handed out cart keys at the last minute to each driver. After the 72 carts rolled off to their respective tees, like a slow-motion version of the Indianapolis 500 start, the flurry of activity died down. Volunteers kept a large grill on the north deck topped up with brats (courtesy of Kramarczuk’s) for players’ mid-round snacks, and a bit later, a truck from Divine Swine Catering pulled up at the club’s front door, with a smoking black trailer holding a whole roast pig.
By then, Edison Music Director Lesley Earles and her “Harmony Bridge” ensemble had replaced the grill activity on the deck. The musicians included Schmitt Music’s Doug Schmitt on tuba. As players ended their rounds, the square of tightly-parked carts grew, along with the noise level at the club’s bar. Chafing dishes were set out on long tables in the hall, next to the display of silent auction items. Barbecued pork, potato salad, and cole slaw trays were emptied and refilled, and the reception hall tables were filled to overflowing with guests.
Alumnus Bernie Tezman sat with his sister, Bev Gacek, Edison class of 1947. Tezman was sure she was the oldest Edison grad present. A number of members of the class of 1958, including Vandermyde, Pete Martin, and Ed Kocon, volunteered for the event, the 60th anniversary of their graduation.
A moment of silence was observed for longtime Edison teacher and coach Niles Schulz, whose accidental death in the Boundary Waters happened earlier that month.
For the afternoon’s finale, the “Magnificient” Edison Alumni Marching band burst into the hall, horns waving and legs strutting as though they were at a homecoming parade. Flanked by flag bearers, Dan Kuch, whistle between his teeth, led the band in with a whirling silver baton. At the first strains of the school song, “Blue Gold,” the crowd stood and cheered.
In May, the foundation’s $2,500 scholarships were awarded to Caliyah Rush, Eli Barban, Faith McCollow, Brayden Rothe, Jordan Green, Cesar Carillo, Jia Lewis, Torin Skoglund, Mary Bice, Therence Nikonkura, Bianey Neri-Ochoa, and Yesenia Zamora.
Below: Edison High School baseball team volunteers at tournament. Last bit of putting practice before tee-off. Edison’s ‘Harmony Bridge’ ensemble on club deck. Diners eating after the tournament. (Photos by Mark Peterson)