The Realities of Sports Funding at SLA

By Natasha Ashby

Staff Writer

How do we pay for sports at SLA?

Students often don’t think about where the money comes from to pay for coaches, uniforms and equipment — and they sometimes assume that it appears magically.

” I knew that some money came from donations and our sports funding, said Zayd Alsardary, senior and basketball player, “but I didn’t know where the rest came from.”

“Tyler Hankinson and Sam Sirochman’s grandfathers donated to the basketball team. People who want to see success in the teams would give us money for the things we need. I didn’t think we could afford most of what we can afford now due to budgets. It’s a good thing we have support from the SLA community and Home and School.”

As Alsadary learned, the process of funding each sport takes work.

The Philadelphia School District gives out a certain amount of money to each public school for the sports teams.

“The coaches salaries are all set. The teachers come up to me asking what they need and how much of it, then I go to the Home and School Association and ask for it.” said English Teacher and Basketball Coach Matthew Kay.

Sometimes schools also get high-profile donations. On December 1, 2011, Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies star player, announced that he was donating 1.2 million in cleats and athletic wear to 57 High Schools in Philadelphia and 4 middle schools. SLA was one of those high schools.

” It was like 30 for baseball, 30 for softball, 30 for boys and girls soccer,” said Kay. “A little over 30 plus we’re waiting on jackets to come for the softball team and shirts for the baseball team.”

However, most of the fundraising falls on the shoulders of the coaches and players.

” This is the toughest season for funding that we have had,” said Matthew Baird, a SLA history teacher and girls soccer coach.

“I don’t know where we are going to get the money for the new home jerseys we had planned. I don’t know how we are going to cover the cost of the other jerseys for players and their families that cannot afford the $50.”

“VK [Soccer Coach Matt Van Koeuwenberg] thought it was a good idea to fundraise ourselves, but there were some complications with the ordering because they cost over $1000, so we did not get the uniforms,” said Junior and soccer player Jhonas Dunakin.

“I just went to people I knew had money and were willing to donate. I pitched them the idea and they donated.”

SLA coaches and students look for people outside of school who are willing to donate to the teams.

“We sell pretzels and I get private donations from friends who what to have girls soccer succeed at SLA,” said Mr. Baird.

The budget is tight and teams have come up with various ways to fundraise, from selling chocolate bars to pretzels in order to get what they need.

“Starting early on the fundraising is the key to success”, said Erin Garvey, SLA Algebra teacher and girls basketball coach. “We are trying to raise money so that all players have adequate sneakers and warm-ups.  It also works to continue building camaraderie among players despite the season being over.  We’ve been fortunate that we’ve had a lot of parent support and assistance with the fundraising effort, especially Ms. Randall.  I would definitely encourage other teams to start their fundraising early so that these funds can be used for the upcoming season.”

In the past year, each school was hit with budget cuts and had to make changes.

“Every school had to drop one sport. We dropped track” from the budget, said Mr. Kay. “The district isn’t funding it anymore. Luckily, our Home and School are now paying for the coach.”

What’s interesting is that many students, including members of the track team were unaware of this change.

” You don’t need funding in order to do what you love. If you truly love it,  you’ll find the means in order to accomplish it, said Senior and Track team captain Tariq Smith.

“As of my meeting last week, none of the sports are going away in the immediate future. That can all change tomorrow, I have no idea,” said Kay.

“As of now, there are going to be spring sports. However, I think there might be big cuts next year, but sports are kinda a sacred cow and it’s a public relations nightmare to cut sports. So, I don’t think anyone was trying to cut them, I think it was just a rumor.”

Money is an important factor when it comes to sports. Although many rumors have been going around regarding sports, they are just rumors. Coaches and players are looking for different outlets such as fundraising and donations in order to provide for their teams.

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