It all began with Bob Lindgren, a director on the Richfield Public School Board of Education in the 1980's when he became concerned about funding for school sports programs. Together, with his friend and former Richfield School Board member George Karnas, they launched a plan to supplement the funding for new equipment and student participation fees through a community initiative: A Golf Tournament and Banquet!
Together, Bob & George gathered Richfield leaders to plan a tournament at Rich Acres Golf Course where entry fees and local sponsors' donation would provide these needed funds for youth programs. George contacted the Fred Babcock VFW Post 5555, host & sponsor and the American Legion Post 435 & accepted the opportunity to host the banquet on alternating years following the golf tournament.
"As spark kindles fire so an idea catches our imagination"
For the community of Richfield, the idea of maintaining the level of opportunities for students, has kindled our leaders' imagination over 28 years ago...
...Here we are today keeping alive that flame for RHS students and programs.
A Tradition Is Born:
The inaugural event was held on June 12, 1990. The newly formed Golf Committee was co-chaired by Bob Lindgren & former RHS administrator, Gene Olive. They were assisted by community volunteers: Richfield Chamber of Commerce President Steve Lindgren in sponsorships, Bill Davis in publicity, Ernie Lindstrom in legal matters, George Karnas in banquet / program and Bud Erickson in golf tournament events. These men became the inaugural Board of Directors of the "Richfield Spartan Foundation, Inc.", a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. In willing cooperation with Richfield superintendents, beginning with Lowell Larson, the connection between the foundation and scholarships for deserving RHS students, was established.
The Spartan Foundation's 29 year history of fundraising for RHS programs and college scholarships provides the basis for a new era of synergy. Due to recent generous donations from sources beyond the profits from the golf tournament and sponsor donations, the Foundation has been able to merge with other foundations and thereby reach out to more students with even larger scholarships. Considering the rising costs of tuition along with increasing pressure to attend post-secondary technical schools and college, we believe that these scholarships will provide needed support for RHS students' post high school years. Over time, the dividends from our support emerge in the forms of expanded opportunities that lead to an improved quality of life for the Richfield Community. Through our giving, we receive! More about our legacy fund.
We thank you, the participants in the Spartan Open for your generous support of the Richfield Spartan Foundation's mission. Let's keep our community spirit burning strong for Richfield Public Schools.
~ In memory of Al Payne, Class of 1965, and President of the Richfield Spartan Foundation from 2001 - 2007 and to Gene Olive, Administrator, Coach, and member of the Spartan Foundation Board. ~ Prepared by Bob Strandquist, RHS Class of 1964.
The Spartan Golf Tournament originally raised funds that were given out in the form of scholarships to RHS students who were selected by teachers and coaches. Led by then RHS former Administrator Gene Olive, the Foundation's first two scholarships were called the Spooner and the Athena awards. At $1000 each, these were given to the top senior male and female student athletes respectively.
In 2009, two additional $500 awards were handed out. The Top Scholar Award is based on academic excellence, leadership, and community involvement. The Against All Odds Award is aimed at students who have overcome personal adversity to find success at RHS through perseverance, fortitude, and determination. In 2013, three more $500 award recipients were added. The Foundation also paid the participation fees for student-athletes who could not afford them.
Throughout the years, post-secondary scholarship awards have totaled $134,500. In 2014, significant donations have enabled the Foundation to add another 8 scholarships for a total of 15 and to increase the amount of each award to $1000. In 2015, an additional 5 scholarships were added. In 2016, another 5 scholarships were added bringing the total to 25 scholarships awarded that year. Another 25 scholarships were issued in 2017. This growth is tangible evidence of the belief in the value of education. We continue to seek new ways to support RHS students in pursuit of their college dreams. More about the awards.
The Golf Tournament & Banquet
In 1990, Bob Lindgren's vision for raising money to buy sports equipment and to provide support for the athletic department became reality at local Rich Acres Golf Course on Richfield's East Side. RHS athletic director, Dave Thielman and coach Gene Olive, a long with Foundation members Bud Erickson, Bill Davis, and Steve Lindgren formed the first golf tournament committee.
The tourney began with four-member teams competing in a scramble format. Due to ever-increasing interest, the teams later grew to five members. Trophies were awarded to teams for low score according to age category. Individual awards were given for men and women according to age for longest drive, closest to the pin, and longest putt. Donated prizes from Richfield businesses and generous individuals gave other players a chance to bring home some hardware, too.
For the first 10 years, the "after tournament banquet" was hosted at either the Richfield American Legion Post #435 or the Fred Babcock VFW Post 5555. But in 1999, when Rich Acres was eliminated as a tournament site due to the MSP Airport expansion, Northfield Golf Club became the new venue for both the tournament and banquet. After 5 years, the Golf Committee sought a venue closer to Richfield with a larger banquet facility. They happily found the RHS golf team's eventual home, Lakeville's Crystal Lake Golf Course. On average, over these past 28 years, there have been 150 golfers per year with 225 people enjoying the banquet. Success continues! More about our golf event.
In 1991, teacher-coach-principal-district office administrator Gene Olive was inspired to create an RHS Hall of Fame and sought to connect it to the Spartan golf tournament and banquet. He met wtih and found agreement from the Spartan Foundation members and Golf committee. Olive and RHS coaches developed a set of qualifying criteria by which alumni candidates were nominated by RHS faculty, coaches, and athletic director. Over the years, successive school administrators continued to chair the Hall of Fame committee, one being Dale Strom.
In 2016, the Richfield Public Schools conducted a Hall fo Fame ceremony over Homecoming weekend. Four individuals were inducted into the Richfield High School Hall of Fame: Chad Kendrick, Tim Potter, and Billy & Mary Hammond. Link.