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The City Journals

AISU closer to having own athletic facility following school’s fundraising gala

Apr 09, 2018 04:41PM ● By Carl Fauver

RSL soccer star Justen Glad autographs his jersey before it’s auctioned to benefit AISU athletics. (Jamie Adamson)

There’s never a good time to become homeless. But Christmas time may be the worst, whether you’re a man, woman, child…or basketball team. Make that two basketball teams.

“Since we don’t have full size indoor athletic facilities here (at American International School of Utah, or AISU) we’ve had to play our ‘home games’ at Sports World Event Center (750 S. 4400 West),” said the school’s new athletic director and boys basketball coach Mike Ashton. “That’s a long way from our campus (4998 S. 360 West), but at least we had a place. Then over our holiday break, the event center closed. The teams were homeless, with almost no warning.”

After limping through the end of their boys and girls basketball seasons, the AISU athletic department decided to do what many of the homeless do. They asked for donations.

“Last year we raised nearly $20,000 at our first-ever fundraising gala,” said AISU Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) President Jamie Adamson. “This year we decided our second annual gala should benefit the athletic department.”

Specifically, the AISU Dragons want a regulation-size athletic facility with hardwood courts, spectator bleachers, locker rooms, showers and all the other things virtually every high school athletic department in Utah takes for granted.

“Ultimately our goal is to move from our charter school athletic leagues (operated by the Utah Schools Sports Association, or USSA) to the ‘regular’ high school leagues,” Ashton added.

Those would be the sports regions operated by the much more familiar Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA). But to swim in that pond, AISU must have its own, regulation indoor athletic facility, with all the bells and whistles the UHSAA deems necessary.

With that goal in mind, student athletes, AISU performance groups, administrators and parents gathered for the school’s “All that Jazz” annual gala. With tickets at $50 per couple and $35 for individuals – along with a number of auction items – the event generated nearly $10,000. Tickets to the Hale Centre Theatre and a Gastronomy gift card fetched the biggest single bid, at $190.

“That’s quite a bit less than what we raised last year for the playground equipment,” Adamson added. “But we had a corporate sponsor that matched us dollar-for-dollar last year. We couldn’t find that kind of sponsor this year so what we did raise is a good start toward an athletic facility.”

At least one celebrity athlete was on hand—Real Salt Lake MLS soccer team’s two-time defensive player of the year Justen Glad attended the gala, providing an autographed jersey for auction. Glad has been associated with RSL since 2012 and, in a roundabout way, that turned him into an American International School of Utah graduate.

“I attended AISU my senior year (2014-15), after moving up here from Arizona,” Glad said. “I had been a part of the RSL Arizona Academy. Both my parents accepted jobs at AISU and the school was a good fit with my (soccer) schedule because it offered flexible hours and online classes.”

Glad attended AISU before the Dragons actually had a soccer team. Still, in honor of his RSL success, the school retired his jersey—No. 15—as part of the gala celebration.

“The gala was my first time back to the school since graduating,” Glad added. “I saw a couple of the teachers I knew and some administrators.  It was a cool event and I think it’s awesome they want to build this (athletic facility). Every kid should have a place to participate in high school sports.”

Another group of celebrities at the gala were members of AISU’s two-time state champion ballroom dance team, along with the school’s jazz band and the world-renowned Salt Lake-based Kenshin Taiko Drummers.

“The gala was a big success,” Ashton said.  A former collegiate athlete himself (a pole vaulter at Utah Valley University), Ashton agrees with Glad that providing the proper athletic facilities for AISU athletes is critical.

“We don’t have firm cost estimates yet for the athletic facility,” Ashton added. “But we do hope to break ground on it before the end of this year.”

However, until the new basketball rims have nets – and the new showerheads have water – AISU’s indoor sports teams will remain “homeless” for at least another winter or two.

“We’re already looking for places to play our ‘home’ volleyball and basketball games,” Ashton concluded. “But it will also be nice when the kids and coaches can see the new facility being built.”