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Winni football trying to avoid pay-to-play

April 28, 2010
TILTON — If the Winnisquam football teams' fundraising efforts continue to slide, players may have to start paying to play.

President of Friends of Winnisquam Football Carol Sanborn said last week that the organization is considering instituting pay-to-play, calling it a "last resort."

"The last thing we ever want to do is have a pay-to-play," Sanborn said. But, "If we can't get support (from the community), we're going to have to charge."

After earning thousands of dollars less this year for their Texas Hold 'em fundraiser at The Lodge at Belmont, Sanborn said they're scrambling to come up with more fundraising ideas. The Lodge fundraiser was their biggest, bringing in $9,000 last year, $8,500 the year before, and only $4,000 this year.

"We pay for everything," Sanborn said. "We pay for refs, we pay for buses, we pay to paint the field … We've never received a penny from the (school) district."

Friends of Winnisquam Football's funds go to all of Winnisquam's teams. Between the middle school team, JV and varsity, there are approximately 75 to 80 players annually. Last year's budget came in around $30,000, though Sanborn said they made a few "big purchases," such as headphones for the coaches. The typical annual budget ranges from $20,000 to $25,000.

"We don't even pay our coaches," Sanborn said. "They're the only coaches in the whole school who don't get paid."

After getting the news from The Lodge that profits would be $5,000 less than last year, Sanborn said, they started looking at the budget and team needs, which include reconditioning the equipment to keep it safe and hiring an athletic trainer for every game – a requirement, not a choice.

"We put all those costs together and thought, we just don't know how we can do this without getting help from the players," she said.

Sanborn said she doesn't want the players to have to worry about whether they can afford to play. She said the worst part of the pay-to-play scenario is that the most at-risk students might not have enough money to play, and those are the kids who need it the most because it keeps them out of trouble.

Sanborn recently proposed a spirit squad to get even more students involved in a sport; right now Winnisquam only has a spirit squad for basketball. She submitted a proposal and was asked to provide a breakdown of the costs. She hasn't done that yet but said it doesn't look promising.

Friends of Winnisquam Football has several fundraisers in the works, including a May 9 Smitty's Movie Night, working at NH Motor Speedway and a cash calendar. Sanborn said she hesitates to keep asking local businesses to contribute to fundraisers such as the cash calendar, because she knows they're having difficulties too.

"I don't want to nickel and dime the local businesses," she said, noting that anyone who likes football and is glad Winnisquam has a team might consider helping the cause. "The more people involved, the easier it would be to raise money."

Sanborn said she's hoping that Winnisquam's recent trip to the championship games, which they lost to Inter-Lakes, might have started to change people's outlook about what football can do for the whole community. She pointed to the Friday night game against Franklin last season and called it an "amazing" and positive event.

"It was mobbed," she said.

People can volunteer in a variety of capacities, from working the gate or snack stand at games to helping facilitate fundraisers. Sanborn said that even if someone has a good idea for a fundraiser, she would welcome a phone call.

"Right now we really need some community support," she said.

The Smitty's Movie Night fundraiser will be held May 9. For every paid adult admission from 6-7:30 p.m., Friends of Winnisquam Football will receive a percentage of the ticket price (25 percent for 50-99 tickets sold, or 50 percent for 100 plus tickets sold). Fundraiser cards can be picked up at the high school.

The organization is also looking for volunteers to help at the NH Motor Speedway June 26 and 27 and Sept. 19. Volunteers will work in the suites and tents area. The more people who volunteer, the more the track will pay.

The cash calendar will be sold in September for the month of October. Friends of Winnisquam Football is looking for donations toward the calendar.

Anyone with other fundraising ideas is encouraged to contact Barbara Foster at the high school at 286-4531 or Carol Sanborn at 630-0111.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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