The wrestling teams raffle over the weekend turned some heads in light of the Dec. 14 Newtown, Conn., massacre, but it brought in thousands of dollars that will allow the team to travel to matches in northern Idaho, California and Nevada, a coach said Sunday.
The team started selling tickets for the first-ever 52 Guns in 52 Minutes raffle over the summer. Each of the 1,000 tickets cost $52.
Theres no way we could predict this would happen, coach Tyrel Harris said of the school massacre. Obviously, our hearts go out to them. Thats a terrible tragedy, and it breaks our hearts to see something like that.
The winners of the gun raffle were announced Saturday at the Rollie Lane Invitational held at the Idaho Center. The tournament one of the biggest in the West featured 48 teams from Idaho, Washington, California, Oregon, Nevada and Wyoming. Before the medal round in the afternoon, raffle winners were named one each minute for 52 minutes.
Columbia High Schools team, which has about 50 kids in grades 9 to 12, is largely self-supporting. We want our program to keep getting better and better, so were going to keep coming up with new ways to help our kids travel, Harris said.
The 30-year-old coach, who is originally from Pocatello, said hed seen similar fundraisers done in other places, including Montana State-Northern in Havre. He thought that since hunting and fishing is so big in Southwest Idaho, the gun raffle would be popular.
Columbia Highs raffle actually involved gift cards for 52 different guns at Sportsmans Warehouse in Nampa. The guns range in price from about $120 to $2,300. Those who won a prize in the raffle but didnt actually want to own a gun, or didnt meet regulations for owning, could use the value of the gift card to buy something else at the store.
Harris said school district officials signed off on the fundraiser after he assured them that the guns promoted in the raffle are used primarily for hunting.
We figured with having it tied to the school district, we didnt want to have a bunch of handguns. Generally, theyre all shotguns or hunting rifles, he said.
Some at the tournament werent happy about the gun-themed fundraiser, but Harris said organizers tried to stay positive. They sold about 875 raffle tickets, falling just a little short of their goal.
Its something were going to do every year if we can, Harris said. Its all about the kids. We want to give them every opportunity we can to get scholarships and go on in life.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413