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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 28, 2010

Funding school sports
Is lacrosse next?

By Saranac Hale Spencer

VOORHEESVILLE — A two-year push for a lacrosse team at Voorheesville’s high school will either ring off the post or hit the netting on Nov. 8.

During the last school year, the parents who formed the Voorheesville Blackbird Youth Lacrosse team petitioned the district to create a boys’ junior varsity lacrosse team, which they offered to pay for at the outset.

The school board voted against their proposal after the school’s administration recommended against creating the team last year.

Several of the students who play on the team and their parents have come to school board meetings over the last few months, in preparation for a second proposal, on which the school board will vote at its November meeting.

“My recommendations are the same this year,” as they were last year, the district’s superintendent, Dr. Teresa Thayer Snyder, said yesterday, stressing that it’s “not because I don’t respect the parents.”

The primary reason for her recommendation against starting the program is “because of the very unsettled economic times we are facing,” she wrote in an e-mail, paraphrasing her previous recommendations to the board.

This year’s proposal differs from last year’s in two respects — it “does not include pay to play and they also addressed the issue of Title IX with a commitment to fund raise for a girls’ sport if there is a challenge,” Snyder wrote.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”  While it applies to all aspects of education, Title IX is most often associated with making sports’ programs for girls equal to those for boys.

An obstacle that has carried over from last year’s proposal is the school’s declining enrollment, Snyder said, citing grades consisting of 80 to 90 students.

“How many sports’ programs can we accommodate?  That’s number one,” said school board President James Coffin of the proposal this week.

The district is expecting that it would cost about $7,000 to field a junior varsity lacrosse team for the spring season, Snyder said.  That includes the cost of a coach, transportation to away games, referees, and equipment.

“Their numbers really are in line with ours,” said Douglas Brill, president of the youth lacrosse team’s board.  He estimated a cost of roughly $5,000, not including equipment and uniforms, since the club team has already made those purchases.

Asked if maintaining that level of support would be feasible over the course of several years, Timothy Sweeney, vice president of the board, said that, in raising between $5,000 and $10,000 annually, the organization, which has gotten not-for-profit status, would seek out grant opportunities.  “It’s not all car washes and bake sales,” he said.

Starting in 1996 and ending last school year, the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district had self-funding program for sports that lasted “too many years,” said Bob McGuire, the district’s athletic director.

“The problem is that it can expand,” he said, explaining that, after one team is created, then the door is open for others.  In the 14 years that the district had a policy for self-funding, the number of teams grew from 49 to 82, he said.

McGuire would not recommend that other schools adopt a self-funding policy.  “If they feel that it’s important enough, then it should be included in your budget,” he said of starting a new team.

“These kids just want to throw a ball around a field,” Annie Brill told the school board at its October meeting.  Brill is married to Douglas Brill; they have a son who plays on the club lacrosse team.  That team was made up largely of seventh- and eighth-graders last spring, and for them to play in high school, they have to be on a school-sponsored team.

There are club-league teams for junior-high age students, but their numbers dwindle for high-school age students, leaving them with nobody to play during the school year, Douglas Brill said.

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“Without being recognized by a school district, you cannot play any other school system,” Douglas Brill said.