A high school dilemma: “If we don’t fundraise, we don’t have a team”

High school football teams coast to coast cannot self-suffice without some help.

That form of help is fundraising.  One team that depends on this yearly is perennial powerhouse and defending provincial champions Citadel Phoenix of the Nova Scotia Student Athletic Federation Football League (NSSAFFL).

Jeff Lawley, the team’s Co-Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator said that there is one simple misconception regarding funding for teams.

“I think the biggest misconception is that funding comes from our school or school board,” expressed Lawley.  “The truth of the matter is that our team is completely self-funded.”

“Every penny we spend comes from our fundraising efforts.  If we don’t fundraise we don’t have a team.”

Ultimately, the key goal of teams is to achieve their budget demands; therefore, fundraising is the main avenue of income.  During the year, football teams face major expenditures – the biggest one being the continual turnover of equipment annually and the Phoenix is no exception.

“We want to run a safe program for our players so we seek the best equipment for their use,” added Lawley.   “All equipment has a ‘best before date’ so the gear gets turned over regularly.”

“We carry enough equipment to completely outfit 65 players, we’ve never had that many but we are always prepared.  This year we have 57 on the team.”

In addition to equipment, there are others associated costs that teams like the Phoenix must address each year.

“Our costs are gear turnover for 65 players, referee bills, field and security rentals, filming costs, a season ending banquet and all the other little things add up to an annual budget requirement of 50K,” described Lawley.

However, fundraising does not come without obstacles and Lawley, who has coached for 23 years (Queen Elizabeth Lions from 1990-2007, Phoenix 2007 to currently), has faced one major hurdle during this time.

“The biggest obstacle is your biggest asset: getting parents to ‘buy in’ to our program,” explained the Phoenix Co-Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator.    “I think our ‘first year’ parents have a tough time with all the demands and expectations of our fund raising efforts but once they see the benefits of our program and the positive influence it has on their son they cannot do enough to help support us. “

“We are truly grateful for the ‘over the top’ help and support we get from our parents.”

With fundraising teams must become creative as there is no financial support that comes from schools.  The Phoenix has found different ways to help raise funds.

“We get creative with our fund raising, rather than sending home a bill of roughly one thousand dollars per player,” comments Lawley.  “We get the players to sell Citadel Score Cards which is a method of local businesses giving discounts on a card that sells for 20 dollars each.”

“We have extensive and generous alumni that support us at our auction, games, and annual giving.  Scotiabank is a sponsor of our auction this year, it’s a big help!”

Citadel Five Peat Team

Robert Zed, who is a parent of the one of the Phoenix players, as well as auctioneer and chief organizer of the team’s auction, said overall, there are indicators of success for any team. The Phoenix is a case study.

“The key to any successful project such as Citadel Football is performance and participation,” explained Zed.  “The Phoenix has become a well-oiled machine due to the sheer number of collective volunteer hours that go into sustaining a high performance team.”

“The only real secret to the success is hard work. – perhaps an over- used term in and of itself, but it is the simplicity and cornerstone of our success both on and off the field.  Parents, guardians and families that band together to support high school sport are part of the fabric that makes a healthy community.  The thread of success is woven together to make us stronger.”

Citadel Five Peat

Like Lawley, Zed emphasized the importance of volunteer coaches and parents who have sacrificed their time to help the Phoenix football program as well as the players.

“At the start of each year, we celebrate our fortune to have a dedicated volunteer coaching staff who literally pause their lives to serve our children,” expressed Zed.  “The balance to this partnership is the willingness of parents and families to support the coaching staff by assisting in financial support through fundraising.”

“Citadel Football does not receive funding from the school or its board.  It is incumbent of the families whose children enjoy this superior program to step up and assist in any way within their means. Not every commitment requires dollars, in fact just as important is the gift of time. Citadel is a safe, inclusive fun place and support with any precious resource makes our team success.”

The Phoenix’s annual fundraising auction is their biggest initiative of the year.  It will take place on Friday October 25th, 2013 at the Citadel High Atrium.  It begins at 7:00pm and the cost is $20.00, which includes free drinks and food.

“In attendance will be parents, their friends, alumni and team supporters,” said Lawley of the auction.  “You don’t have to love football to enjoy the auction!”

“It’s a lot of fun getting together as a big Citadel Football “Family” event with music, drinks, food and loads of great prizes to bid on.”

Citadel Coaches

There will be the introduction of something new at this year’s event.  Beginning this year, a former winning provincial championship team from wither Queen Elizabeth High Lions (QEH) or St. Patrick’s Fighting Irish  (these teams amalgamated in 2007 to form current Citadel Phoenix) will invited and honoured at the event.  The 1978 QEH Lions will be the honourees as this year marks the 35th anniversary of their provincial championship win over Cobequid Educational Centre Cougars.

By having a former championship team be invited back, it gives an opportunity for stories to be shared, reunions between former teammates as well as current senior players having the opportunity to talk with these former players.

While this is a fundraising event, Zed said there are more far reaching effects from the auction.

“The auction itself is far more than a fundraiser,” expressed Zed. “It’s the central gathering of the Citadel Football family where we celebrate the game, the team, and the family.”

“What motivates me to help is the hope of stronger communities supported by initiatives such as Citadel Football that promote sport, health and wellness.   That’s the secret sauce.”

All Photo credits with exception of Tanner/Lawley shot:  Cathy Connell

(twitter: http://twitter.com/vohra_ameeta)

 

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