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Warrior Football Blitzing the Budget Crunch
High school coaches have a lot to deal with, especially in the fall. The kids are returning and recovering from the summer malaise, getting back to focusing on school and sports alike.
But at Nipmuc this fall, the sports teams returned to face the grim reality of a tight budget that's forced each team to become fully self-sufficient financially. Athletic Director Bill Leaver sent out a letter in the spring detailing the costs of each program and, with little surprise, football came with the biggest price tag.
It will cost an estimated $36,287, based on what has been expended over the past few years, for the Warriors to field a varsity and junior varsity football team this season. Of course, football teams are larger in numbers than most other sports, so the cost per player is reduced with the shared burden, but Head Coach Phil Shiloski still says the increased costs have kept some players away.
"We definitely lost a couple of kids to (the cost)," he said. "It's a big issue. We're trying to do some fundraising to take a little money off of each person's fee for playing, but as of now it's going to be roughly $500 a kid to play football."
Shiloski was happy to see about 80 players turn out on the first day of practice, and he's hopeful the team's primary fundraiser will help offset a good chunk of the cost. The football boosters are selling raffle tickets, and a recent ticket blitz needed more than $4,200 on a single Saturday. The tickets will be drawn during each home game for three cash prizes.
"That's the big fundraiser," said Shiloski. "We're looking to make over $10,000."
Assuming the boosters achieve their goal, it would leave an estimated $26,000 to cover the cost of the teams split between 80 student athletes. That's still roughly $325 per player. Better than $500, but still not insignificant costs given that many athletes play more than one sport and many families are supporting more than one athlete.
It's an unfortunate state of affairs affecting more than just the football team. Funding the boys' and girls' soccer teams and girls' field hockey teams will each require more than $15,000 for varsity and JV combined. In an uncertain economy, these kinds of hard decisions often have to be made and there's never a "right" way to go about it...some team, art program, music program, will feel the sting. Nipmuc athletic boosters are stepping up to the plate and responding, but the situation has kept four or five football players from taking the field this year.
That's four or five too many.




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