Coaching Positions Saved Thanks To Boosters, Donations

Anthony Wayne High School student-athletes work out in a weight room that is equipped and maintained by the Anthony Wayne Athletic Boosters. The Boosters have stepped up to provide financial support to maintain two weight room coaches and other assistant coaches who were slated to be eliminated in the wake of a levy failure. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Following instructions posted on a TV above weight machines, Anthony Wayne High School football players teamed up to spot one another as they lifted on Monday morning – the sounds of grunts and music echoing down the empty halls.

The weight room, equipped and maintained by the Anthony Wayne Athletic Boosters, isn’t staffed during the summer months – relying on volunteers instead – but during the school year, both the high school and junior high have weight room coaches who are paid $7,843 each for their time and expertise to assist students from all sports.

“These weight room coaches are super for our kids and provide such a benefit for each and every program,” said incoming Boosters president Trey Tollstam. 

The positions were among the athletic department supplemental positions slated to be unfilled for the 2024-25 school year as part of an effort to slash spending after voters turned down a 2.42-mill levy to support operations for the district. But then the Boosters stepped in.

“I knew the Boosters would help, but I didn’t know they would be so generous,” said athletic director John Snyder. “They’ve never told us no.”

So far, the Boosters have contributed about $35,000, which – when combined with $11,000 in donations from individual sports accounts – has enabled 10 of the positions to be funded, including assistants for boys and girls basketball and soccer, volleyball, wrestling and the weight room coaches, plus extra days for the assistant athletic director to close out and open up the season.

Snyder expects the Anthony Wayne Fullbackers to cover the cost of an assistant for football, and – by spring – to have funding for baseball, softball and track.

Assistant coaches are vital, Snyder said, explaining that it’s much more than coaching on the field. The assistants ensure that student-athletes are following protocol, adhering to safety measures and maintaining behavior and attendance.

“The biggest thing they do is the supervision of over 700 athletes,” he said of the assistants. “Just because we’re losing coaching positions doesn’t mean we’re losing kids.”

Once the weight room coaches were covered, Tollstam said the Boosters prioritized saving all of the coaching assistants, but that takes a chunk out of funds that are dedicated to providing equipment and 18 scholarships to graduating student-athletes.

“We’re going to have big challenges because of the levy not passing, and we’re going to have to support these coaches and kids so they are not punished in the process,” Tollstam said. 

“It feels like it’s a little bit of a band-aid over something that might need surgery; we really need levy support in November to keep our programs successful.”

Next up is a discussion by the Boosters on how to help students who might not be able to afford the new pay-to-participate fees for student-athletes in grades 7-12. 

Last week, the district rolled out those fees: $150 for the first sport and $125 for the second sport for high school and $80.00 each for the first and second sport at the junior high. 

Students playing three or more sports would not pay additional fees, and the fees would be capped at $450 per family living in the same household. 

The district has a student assistance fund, started by retired teachers several years ago, that can be used to accept donations to help students who need assistance in paying sports fees, said school treasurer Kerri Johnson. Families with a financial need may contact the athletic office. 

The Boosters are also working to expand fundraising efforts and membership to help cover fees for students.

“It’s absolutely in our DNA to help people with that,” Tollstam said.

The Boosters raise funds through an annual Booster Bash, working concessions at different events and memberships, which are $25.00 a year for single members, $40.00 for a family or $500 for a lifetime individual membership. 

“What we really need now is for our membership to grow. This depletes a big portion of all the work we’ve done and we will need some support,” Tollstam said. “We don’t want to cut any of the scholarships or things that help our students move forward. We want to make sure the facilities are world-class so we can continue to build a legacy for these kids.”

The Northern Lakes League (NLL) recently announced entrance fees for athletics for the 2024-25 school year. For details, visit the www.anthonywayneschools.org/athletics.

District residents who are 60 or older may attend all athletic events free of charge with a Generals Pride Pass. To obtain a pass, bring an ID to the Central Administrative Offices at 9565 Bucher Rd., Whitehouse.

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