When eight teams were eliminated from the Mamaroneck School District athletic program during recent budget cuts, it took a few weeks for the news to sink in.
Many families didn’t know exactly which teams were being cut. Or they didn’t understand how their own child might be affected by the reductions. But once the parent community figured out that 175 students would no longer be able to participate in school sports, it rallied around the idea of raising funds to preserve these teams.
The Tiger Team Booster Club, an existing non-profit entity, has taken the lead in sponsoring a community-wide raffle. The Grand Prize was donated by a few generous members of the community, and what a prize it is: 2 tickets to the 2010 Major League Baseball All Star Game on July 13th in Anaheim, California; 2 round trip airline tickets on Jet Blue Airways; and a 2-night hotel accommodation.
Raffle tickets for this “All Star Game Getaway” are just $20 each. The drawing for the raffle will take place on the night of the June 15th School Board meeting, at which all proceeds will be gifted to the Athletic Program, specifically for the purpose of reinstating teams.
The total budget for reinstating all 8 teams in their full capacity is approximately $100,000. So the booster club is hoping to sell 5000 tickets over the next two weeks.
If the raffle is successful, the district has said it would accept the money and start scheduling games for next year. If the fundraising effort falls short of the full budget, it will be up to the Athletic Department and school administration to decide how to allocate the donated funds.
The teams cut from the budget this year are considered the fourth team of their respective sports. While the budget preserved a varsity, junior varsity and modified team for most sports, it eliminated freshman teams (football, baseball, boys’ basketball); second modified teams (field hockey, softball, volleyball and girls’ basketball); and a second JV boys’ soccer team. Such teams are in place in many large districts because these particular sports are very popular and a lot of students want to participate. In some cases, like field hockey and volleyball, it is the first opportunity for girls to learn the sport and develop skills.
While the district cannot be engaged in fundraising, Athletic Director Bari Suman is excited about the community’s effort to save these programs. “The more kids we can keep involved, the better. And these are the younger, developmental teams where skills are learned and camaraderie is so important, “ she said. A fan of teamwork, Ms. Suman noted, “It’s especially gratifying to see people working together on behalf of so many different sports. “
Diane Muratore, one of the volunteers behind the raffle, hopes the effort will show the district how much the community values these programs for our youth. “My sons have benefitted from the experience of playing on these teams. I would hate to see other children miss out on the opportunity.” With a short timeline, Ms. Muratore and the other raffle volunteers are working feverishly to keep next year’s teams in place. But they hope the district will find a way to put the teams back in the budget for future years. Many parents are also hopeful that the raffle will reinvigorate the Tiger Team Booster Club, giving it momentum and a unified sense of purpose.
Athletics is not the only area where families have tried to raise money to reinstate school programs this year. PACE parents recently organized a successful fundraising drive to bring back two performing arts shows. Families involved in the music program have orchestrated a fundraising campaign to offset cuts. And middle school families are working on a plan to raise money for the Hommocks Musical.
Anyone interested in buying raffle tickets or making a donation to the Tiger Team Booster Club is encouraged to contact any of the following volunteers: Diane Muratore, Liz Fitzgerald, or Judy Santamaria.