By Olivia Whitaker and Sarah Schwartz
Graphic by Adrienne Lirio
South offers 55 unique sports teams, each with their own talents. However, the high quantity of teams makes it difficult to ensure each program receives the same amount of funding. Brought up by coaches and student-athletes alike, the funding disparity between sports is a concern that must be addressed transparently.
The wrestling team, which won the Dual County League (DCLs) this past season, has had multiple new additions to their equipment in the past year, including a new matlight and new singlets. Next year, they are set to invest in new warm-up jackets.
Wrestling coach and wellness teacher Alan Rotatori said that there is a cycle for new uniforms that every team goes through before any other monetary needs are considered.
“When it’s your turn, you’re allowed to purchase new uniforms, and then you trickle down [to other needs],” he said.
Athletics Director Patricia Gonzalez said many factors are considered when trying to decide what to spend money on, and that they try to do it in a way that makes it equal for all the programs.
“We’re very careful with the money we spend and we spread them in ways that [are] fair and as equitable as we can,” she said.
Rotatori said that the Athletic Department is extremely supportive when he asks for equipment that will further the wrestling team’s development.
“The Athletic Department supports us, funding-wise, whenever we make any decisions in order to improve the program,” he said. “I don’t ask for excessive stuff, but when I ask for something we need, [the Athletic Department] can give us that.”
For the softball team, bownet tees and batting cages allow balls to be hit with a front toss as opposed to side toss, which is more effective. Sophomore and softball player Hannah Schwager feels more funding would be beneficial for her team’s performance.
“[Bownet tees and batting cages] can boost our performance, but that alone is very expensive [which] our funds could not cover,” she said. “It makes it really hard for us to invest in equipment to make our program stronger.”
This year, the Nordic ski team had around 50 people. These were numbers that hadn’t been seen before on the team, and the group used this energy to place second in the state tournament. Senior and captain Ben Modiano said that despite their accomplishments, the Nordic team is underappreciated.
“We deserve the funding that a team of 50 people deserves,” he said. “We’re a prominent team and so [we] deserve some support from the school.”
Whether it’s through a bake sale, car wash or some other event, there are many ways for teams to fundraise that can benefit each team with items such as new jackets and equipment.
Gonzalez said that the extra equipment some sports teams receive gives people a notion that certain teams get more funding than others, when in reality the money comes from the individual team’s fundraising.
“[The Athletic Department] only provides needs, other things that don’t have to do with needs come from fundraising,” she said. “The perception is that people see certain teams having things, and they think it comes from the budget. It comes from fundraising.”
Booster Club President Teri Ginsburg said that teams raising extra money through fundraisers is extremely important in the bigger picture.
“Extra funding definitely can add value to the whole program and to teams specifically,” she said.
Modiano similarly said that fundraising is a crucial part that can double as a team-building activity.
“Getting out there with your team at bake sales and spreading the word to promote yourself is a really good way to get the team engaged,” he said.
The Booster Club recently implemented a resource called a “Team Fund” which allows coaches to directly ask the Booster Club for equipment. Ginsburg said this is an important opportunity for many teams to directly address additional needs.
“We now have a very specific fund that allows the teams to come to us to request boosters funding for things that are specific to their team,” she said.
However, there are some things that fundraising cannot help with. Girls and boys volleyball coach Lucas Coffeen said one thing that could be improved with more funding is safety, for any sport.
“The big thing that could improve with some funding for infrastructure improvement at the high school for any sport would be safety,” he said. “[The volleyball poles in the gym] are pretty dangerous to play around because if you land on them, you can hurt yourself. We had someone break their leg this past year, landing on one.”
Nordic ski coach Jeff Riklin has coached for 12 seasons and only recently learned what the team’s budget was. Riklin said having transparent information about the amount of funding accessible to him is important.
“Once I found out what the budget was, I certainly can afford $1,000 to hire an instructor,” he said. “We needed an instructor because we had 20 new kids this year who’d never skied before.”
The amount of funding a team gets can have long-lasting effects on a student-athlete. Rotatori said that funding goes beyond just sports teams; funding can also help guide student-athletes to playing more in the future.
“We’re not talking about just life here itself. Funding programs help kids get to the point where they can extend [their athletic career in the future],” he said. “It’s really important that we keep that perspective here at school.”