After retiring from teaching and coaching soccer at Hinsdale Central, Dick Flesher wanted to remain in education so he created his own nonprofit organization.
Flesher is founder and president of Schools Count, which will hold one of its biggest fund-raisers of the year Sept. 22, with help from the Hinsdale Central boys soccer program.
Every year, several seniors from the soccer team volunteer to organize the Kick It In for Chicago Kids soccer/tennis tournament. This year’s event will be held from noon to 3 p.m. on Hinsdale Central’s tennis courts.
The proceeds from the event benefit Schools Count, which provides school supplies for students from Chicago Public Schools and outlaying areas.
“It’s the coolest. Obviously it’s awesome being involved in a charity to support kids in the inner city,” said senior Mitchell Meyer, one of this year’s volunteers. “You hope it always keeps going.”
The Clarendon Hills resident is a former goalkeeper with the Devils, which are ranked No. 1 by highschoolcubenews.com. The senior quit the team this season when he received an invitation to participate full-time with Chicago Fire Academy.
His twin brother Christian Meyer remained with Hinsdale Central and is the team’s leading scorer with four goals through Saturday’s 2-1 victory over No. 5 Morton in the Red Devil Cup final.
Mitchell Meyer and the rest of the tournament organizers have put in countless hours of work beginning in early summer for the KICK tournament.
This is the tournament’s seventh year and for it to continue, new players will need to step up next year. Seniors working their final year with the event are T.J. Schmidt, J.D. Garnett, Max Krohn, Manos Proussaloglou and Christian and Mitchell Meyer.
“It’s really good. They have a lot of responsibility,” Flesher said of the committee. “They have to do it all, from contacting the businesses and organizing game events.”
Flesher was head coach of the boys soccer program from 1981-1995 and went 120-144-43. He also led the Devils girls to third place at the state tournament in 1989.
Flesher said his organization helps nearly 18,000 children in 30 CPS programs. Last year’s KICK event raised between $5,500-6,500 for Schools Count and has donated an estimated $23,000 during the six years of the program.
Organizers expect nearly 50 two-man teams to compete this year. The matches are conducted on the Hinsdale Central tennis courts, using soccer balls instead of tennis balls. Doubles teams are split into brackets and kick the balls in place of using racquets.
The day also includes a soccer ball juggling competition and an auction for gift baskets.
“We have contacted the sponsors, raised prizes for businesses to donate to the event and found T-shirt sponsors,” Mitchell Meyer said. “We’re building on a program, which is what they created when it started in 2007. It gets bigger and bigger every year.”