Gateway lacrosse planning to move forward despite board vote
Despite a new Gateway School District budget that doesn't include funding for the Gators boys lacrosse program, head coach John Washington said the program will continue to move forward with plans to become a full member of the WPIAL next spring.
The district budget always has funded the varsity sports that compete in the WPIAL - from football to baseball and from wrestling to basketball - but in this time of budget trimming, taking on another sponsored sport wasn't in the cards, and the board voted as such on June 27.
Buses to away contests, use of fields and equipment are a couple of the items the current sponsored sports receive in their seasons of competition.
The Gateway lacrosse program began in March 2011, and varsity and JV teams competed with club status the past two springs.
Gateway will be eligible to compete fully in a WPIAL section in 2013 and be eligible for the WPIAL playoffs.
"We are grateful (Gateway) was able to allocate some money to us in the past for buses and use of the facilities," Washington said.
"The funds were there (then) in the general athletic budget."
He acknowledged that because of the budget restraints, the funds just aren't there now.
"We will probably have to raise all the money ourselves," Washington said.
"We might have to look into piling into cars to away games. If that's what we will have to do, we will do it."
Washington said the players in the program have been dedicated to seeing the program take off, and, he said, he wants to give them every opportunity to see them succeed in the future.
"It's early, and there is still room to talk and do what we can for the kids in the program," Washington said.
"These kids have invested probably $200 to $300 just in their equipment, plus the additional money for things like travel fees and paying officials. They are looking at a $450 to $500 investment to play the sport. It's a lot like the players on the (club) hockey team. Whatever happens, we're going to persevere."
Washington said once the kids make the investment in the equipment at a younger age, they are set for three or four years.
"Most of the kids on the team started as freshmen or sophomores, so they are getting good use out of the money spent," he said.
Washington said some of the players who graduated donated their used equipment back to the program.
"They understand the situation and want to do what they can," he said.
Some of the players who got new sticks for Christmas, Washington added, donat- ed their old sticks to the program.
"If kids want to learn to play, we'll do everything we can to make that happen," Washington said.