Limit on GBS sports fundraising implemented for 2019-2020

Fundraised money no longer allowed to pay for coaches not originally allotted a stipend

Mary Grace Reynolds and Madaket Chiarieri

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Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, GBS athletic programs will no longer be able to pay additional coaches out of fundraising profits and must adhere to the number of paid coaching positions, otherwise known as stipends, allotted to each program by the district, according to Athletic Director Steven Rockrohr.

Rockrohr says that fundraising as a way to pay additional coaches is both inequitable and promotes the unfair sentiment that a program’s athletes, parents and communities should be investing in additional support for their program. These two reasons have caused the district to introduce the change for future years.

“What teams [have done] is fundraise money in order to pay coaches,” Rockrohr said. “So the way we’ve looked at that is that parents are paying premium in order to bring another coach into their program and that’s not right because then you have some sports whose [communities are] more accessible and successful in raising funds versus other ones where not everyone can fulfill that requirement.”

Rockrohr emphasizes that stipends are distributed through the district and that the number of paid coaching positions are either maintained or increased each year, never decreased. Stipend distribution across sports takes into account the coach-to-athlete ratio as well as the varying safety risks of any given sport, according to Rockrohr.

“Obviously I would like to have as many coaches as we can possibly have; it’s just not economically feasible,” Rockrohr elaborated. “We can only pay so many coaches and we don’t want to charge parents for their children to participate like some schools around here. So what we’re doing is we assign stipends based on what we think each individual program needs [such as] how many kids are involved, the safety concerns, etc.”

Boys’ Lacrosse Coach Will Jeffery says that he is in support of the change and that though the boys’ lacrosse program benefits from their fundraisers such as a raffle and mulch sale as they use those funds to pay coaches not currently allotted a stipend, he recognizes how it could be unfair to continuously ask for money and use that towards paying more coaches.   

“We don’t like asking people to pay us money [for fundraisers] considering they pay taxes and we already are as supported of a school as it gets,” Jeffery said.

Jeffery says the change requires that budgeting adjustments be made for upcoming years and that the boys’ lacrosse program will explore the option of splitting stipends: the division in the payment of one coaching position to create spots for two coaches.

“If we would need to come up with funds, splitting stipends is what we would end up doing,” Jeffery said. “We are also potentially leaning further towards volunteer coaches. But, there will definitely be a need to move things around a little bit and reevaluate next year.”

Poms Coach Julie Smith, one of two coaches in the poms program, believes that coaching a large varsity team by herself can have negative impacts on the experience of the athletes, but stresses that payment is not what propels people into coaching in the first place.

“We don’t coach for compensation,” Smith said. “If you’re in it for the money, you’re going to be very disappointed and you’re not going to last. That being said, I think having assistants lightens some of that load and is also better for kids. I carry 26 girls on varsity and it’s hard to give 26 girls all an individualized experience when there’s just one of you.”

The number of stipends per program is revisited either annually or biannually, according to Rockrohr. Rockrohr says that overall, GBS has an admirable number of stipends for their athletic teams.

“We sit pretty well in both the number of stipends we have and the amount of money we pay our coaches,” Rockrohr said. “The number of coaches we have is awesome and if we really see a need, the district has been very good about adding coaches. “

Jeffery trusts that GBS’s athletic teams and programs will continue to move forward and embrace this change.

“We’re going to adapt— everybody adapts,”Jeffery said. “We preach resilience and turning every challenge into a positive as coaches, so it would be hypocritical to complain about this change. I think we’re going to be just fine. If nothing else, we just need to be more creative with our funds.”

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