Today, I start my column with a clarification. It’s a little late because of Spring Break, but nonetheless, needs to be in print. In my March 29 column, I wrote about school districts that weren’t collecting gate entry fees for all sports. Lapeer West athletic director Mary Haslinger informed me after reading that column that West was indeed charging for entry into baseball and softball games. That’s a first for West, and East, this season.
As I had mentioned, many, many schools were not charging fans to watch some of the popular spring sports. Soccer fans have been paying to watch at East and West for several years, but the baseball, softball and tennis fans could watch for free. I’m glad to see the change. Other school districts that also were not charging are putting into motion plans to catch those lost revenues. It’s not an easy process as Mary pointed because like West, many of the schools don’t have surround fencing around all of their playing fields. That’s certainly not atypical, just creates some minor problems in corralling fans into one entry point. It’s a work in progress at several districts, and one that many fans in Lapeer are not taking too very well after not having to pay in previous seasons. It’s a burden that has to be spread out across the board, and not just to the sports that play inside gymnasiums and on lighted fields. There are expenses associated with every sport at every level and anyone looking for how it’s done properly need only travel to Davison to see how their facilities and gate entrances are set up. It’s clean, seamless and catches nearly all fans entering all of the separate venues. Those boarding the parking lots are the most difficult to police and maintain because not everyone entering the parking lot is there as a spectator, rather picking up kids from band, chess club and other after-school activities.
My email had several interesting requests this week relating to dilapidated facilities at several other school districts. Swartz Creek parents were miffed that their kids will be running all meets on opposing tracks because the track has been deemed unsafe. Join the club. As we pointed out in our article in Thursday’s Swartz Creek View, the Dragons are not alone, as LakeVille has run all meets away for the past seven years because their track is unsafe. Two failed bond issues will keep those kids off their home track for another season. Creek did get a break in the weather and some repairs and patches were made to its decades old track, but not enough to satisfy athletic director Sue Calvo.
As more repairs may be made throughout the season, the kids may be able to return to the Creek track.
LakeVille won’t be able to though, as there are simply no funds available. A new group will host a race/walk behind the school to begin the renewed fundraising efforts to try to raise enough money for repairs, but like all the schools looking at old tracks quite literally on their last legs, the cost to repair is just too big to shoulder. Goodrich just replaced its track last year and is now in the midst of updating its football facility. Tennis courts, not unlike the tracks, are also quite susceptible to wear and tear and weather. Lapeer East and West were off their courts for several seasons before the Lapeer Optimists came through and paid for their new courts. Soccer fields also were updated thanks to the Optimists and other groups. They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes nearly $300,000 to replace a high school track. You try coming up with that kind of money with the budget axes continuing to cut deep and wide swathes at every district. Don’t stop supporting the kids because you are mad at the changes schools are forced to make. They don’t like it any more than you do, but the old ways have had to change and will continue to be adapted. It’s the new reality across all districts and, as I pointed out in my previous column, every cent counts.