Illustrated by Helena Warner
Every sports season comes with games and practices that demand varying amounts of equipment and transportation—which require funding. M-A’s sports teams receive funding from the District, but many student athletes feel that their teams still don’t get enough.
M-A’s coaches can choose how to distribute the funds the Athletic Department allots to them. Athletic Director Steven Kryger explained, “We tell coaches that the Athletic Department will pay between $500 and $750 per program for equipment.” He added on, addressing the problem that many student athletes face, “That doesn’t always cover what they need. Teams can use extra money to fill the gap.”
Teams fill that gap in different ways. Girls’ Varsity Lacrosse Coach Alexis Longinotti said, “The lacrosse parent group budgets a ‘fair share’ number. We ask parents to donate that amount.” The money donated pays for extra equipment like shooting mats, lacrosse balls, and team bonding activities. “We are conscious of every family’s financial situation. No one should not be able to play lacrosse because they can’t pay.”
In addition to parent donations, the girls’ water polo teams receive funding from brand partnerships. “Sometimes we’ll do one of those Chipotle fundraisers, where you pick a night and then a certain percent of the money comes to us. We’ve also had Wetzel’s Pretzels come to sell at our tournaments. And the same thing with Jolyn, the swimsuit company,” said Girls’ Water Polo Coach Lauren Lesyna.
Brand fundraising events pay for smaller needs. “It would cover things like team bonding. We’ll do laser tag sometimes, or team dinner. A lot of it covers food,” Lesyna expanded, adding, “It might also cover other needs, like if somebody has a scholarship for a swimsuit, or if we need a new whiteboard.”
Despite teams finding extra sources, some students feel they are still short of equipment like uniforms. Sophomore cheerleader Estelle Legrand said, “Half of my team did not have uniforms for almost the whole season. They had to use five-year-old uniforms.” However, Kryger said, “In sports that the school keeps the uniforms, the Athletic Department pays for them, but in sports like cheerleading and dance, it’s very difficult to purchase a set that will fit everyone every year since they don’t come in small, medium, or large. The District sets aside $10,000 a year for cheerleading and dance to buy new uniforms every year. I think the delay was due to supply chain issues.”
Students have also voiced concerns about transportation issues. Girls’ Varsity Basketball player Avary Sheldon said, “My parents have to get to my games an hour early, which is kind of inconvenient.” Sophomore wrestler Claire Chang shared that “We had a few away games [last season] but we could never get a bus. Our parents had to drive us almost two hours to one of them.”
However, there is a reason for the lack of busing. Girls’ Wrestling Coach Wendy Tabaldo explained, “Buses would eat up a big chunk of [the Athletic Department’s] budget. We have a small team so we encourage the parents to drive and be a part of it.” Sophomore Lexi Nelson, who plays water polo and lacrosse, said, “It would be silly to have buses for the water polo team since it’s so small. But I think we should get buses for lacrosse since the team is larger.”
“We let the coaches decide with their parents if they need buses. For a lot of sports it’s significantly easier for parents to drive,” said Kryger. Lesyna explained her rationale, saying, “I could ask our Athletic Department to see if they could get us a bus. I never asked because we don’t need it.” She added, “If we wanted buses, I don’t know if we would get them.” Kryger assures teams that, “Any coach that wants to get buses can get buses. It doesn’t come out of the team’s budget. It comes out of the schools budget we never stop coaches from getting buses.”
Football uses more money than most teams, resulting in a more pressing need for funding across the board. Due to the size of the team (just short of 150 people), the football teams have to do more fundraising than most, although they have buses for every away game. In fact, according to Football coach Christopher Saunders, “Roughly 90% of every penny that goes into football is fundraised. We conduct several different elements of fundraising. Team members participate in something we can do called Fan Angel, which is an email campaign where they have to garner raise emails, and we request support and funding. That’s probably about a third of our total funding.” Most of the football team’s fundraising is through the M-A Athletic Boosters and M-A Football Association.
M-A’s Athletic Boosters program provides significant funding for teams. “Most of our funding is Boosters,” said Lesyna. “We ask them for new equipment. So we just got a couple of brand-new water polo goals a few years ago, which are around $2,500 apiece, which is a big investment.”
Overall, it’s clear that coaches, the Athletic Boosters program, and athletes all put a lot of effort into funding M-A’s athletic programs. For teams struggling with funding, Kryger suggested, “We encourage our coaches to meet with parents and discuss their needs.”
This article has been updated on November 29th with additional comments from Kryger to clarify the reason for the lack of cheer uniforms and that the Athletic Department will meet all transportation requests of school coaches and allots each coach’s funding.