Mammoth High’s athletic teams feel the budgetary pinch. (Photo: Hicks)
According to MHS parent Susan Hicks, the Mammoth High School Girls Softball season is at risk of cancellation due to lack of funds.
Although the Mammoth High School Boosters Club gave the team $1,000 for the season, Hicks said the program faced an $800 deficit at the start of the season, so after the Boosters gift, it only had $200 in the kitty.
That news came as no surprise to now-retired Girls Soccer Coach Tom Cage. While Cage lauded current Athletic Director Chris Powell, he described Powell’s predecessors as “horrible … especially when it came to money.”
Former MHS Baseball Coach Eric Olson agreed. “When we became a Basic Aid District, that was supposed to take care of all these [funding] problems. It hasn’t. The District doesn’t know how to budget money.”
As it costs an estimated $5,000 to cover travel costs and officiating fees, Hicks said the softball team needed to raise approximately $4,800 within a few weeks to save its season.
The collection of a majority of school participation fees (which is a voluntary, not mandatory fee), a recent bake sale and business sponsorships has whittled that number to approximately $2,000. A carwash fundraiser is scheduled for this Saturday in the Footloose parking lot starting at 10 a.m.
Future fundraisers are also planned.
Coach William Ethell, a mathematics teacher hired two weeks before the season began, forfeited half his $2,700 stipend in an effort to save the season. He is confident the team will reach its fundraising goal.
The plight of the MHS Softball is representative of what’s happening to MHS Athletic Programs in general.
If parents and the community don’t pony up, the kids don’t play.
As Cage says in explanation of the viability of the Girls’ Soccer program, “I had a good assistant and decent parent involvement.”
He also had the means to fund much of his team’s expenses out of pocket.
Which is one thing when you have a child participating in the sport. And quite another when you don’t.
Cage’s daughter Rebecca graduated in 2011, but because of his ties to many of the players, he agreed to coach one more season.
Cage said he spent about 20 hours/week coaching over a period of four months.
He gave half the coaching stipend to his assistant coach and half went to buy sweats for the team.
Fundraisers and participation fees covered about $3,000 of the team’s expenses this year
Cage spent another $3,000 of his own money to finance the rest.
Eric Olson said that when he was head coach (his son Eric played for him), the team was primarily funded through two sources; a charity golf tournament and an advertising banner program which ran along the outfield fence at Whitmore Field.
These two sources raised about $7,000 annually.
Olson said he never took a stipend, although one year, he recalls the Boosters giving him $1,000.
“They’re [Mammoth Unified School District] pulling the rug out, not just out from under MHS Softball, but out from under everyone,” said Olson. “By their actions, they want all sports to be club sports. The lack of interest in the athletic programs and how they run things … signals one more [responsibility] delegated to the public.”
2012 is the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, legislation signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
In a nutshell, Title IX, according to womenssportsfoundation.org: “prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid.”
One yardstick in the measurement of discrimination is participation.
As the womenssportsfoundation website says, the ratio of male and female participation in athletics should reflect the overall ratio of the student population.
Without softball, MHS girls would only have track as a spring athletic option, whereas boys would have track, baseball and golf.
Boys and Girls’ teams, however, are treated the same accoording to Superintendent Rich Boccia when it comes to money. The District pays the coaching stipends and the teams are responsible for raising the rest. “That’s the economic reality,” he said. The football program, he added, gets no special treatment.