PIGEON — More than 20 years after his football playing days at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port High School were over, Eric Buschlen got a crazy idea.
How about suiting up once again?
“When I realized that I could play football again as a Laker and help enhance the future of the program, I pounced,” Buschlen, a 1989 Laker graduate, said.
With the help of Vassar’s Bill Germain, Buschlen has set up a benefit alumni football game between the Lakers and Vulcans, slated for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6.
All of the proceeds from the game will go toward the Vassar and EPBP football programs.
What Buschlen now needs is other former players to join him on the field that night.
“This has been a pretty long process,” he explained. “I have been working on this since the spring of 2009. The Laker school board approved it in October of 2010.
“We had some great games with Vassar and I am excited to be able to mix it up with them again, but also do it for a cause that I believe in — the future of Laker football. It’s really a win-win.”
The game will be full-contact with referees. To be eligible to play, alumni must be out of school for three years (2007 or older). And, you do not need to be a former football player to participate.
“Many schools in the southern Thumb area like Mayville, Deckerville, North Branch and Imlay City already have alumni teams in place,” Buschlen said. “We are starting from scratch to field an alumni team. So, we really need some people to turn out for this. Laker football has had some incredible teams over the decades and it will be great to play with former players — recent ones and older ones, too.”
Buschlen said EPBP will have two tiers of alumni — players and VIP alumni. Both tiers will pay an entry fee, but the players will pay more for the equipment rental. The VIP alumni will not play on game day, but will get free admission to the game and a sideline pass. Both groups will get a commemorative jersey in the number of their choice.
Equipment will be given out the day before and collected the day after the game. Players who wish to “start” on either side of the ball must attend the practices. However, all players will ultimately receive equal playing time. A liability waiver also has to be signed.
Buschlen said alumni pay to play, and with 50 paid alumni the school could net up to $5,000. This number is based on the amount collected through player and gate fees, less the cost of the commemorative jersey.
“We will charge $5 per person (children under 10 get in free) at the gate,” he said. “This entry fee is split 70/30 between the teams, with the larger portion going to the home team.
“I work in higher education, and I know that the state makes deep cuts each year in education. For us to be able to raise $5,000 or more for the team is an amazing opportunity.”
Each program has slightly different fees for playing. Buschlen said to contact the specific coordinators for more information.
For the Lakers, contact Buschlen at (989) 860-7692 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the Vulcans, contact Germain at (989) 233-7755 or email@example.com.
The Laker Alumni Association also is helping to promote the event. The forms for Laker alumni can be found online at lakeraa.org/Alumni_Football.html.