Johnstown athletic program receives big donation

August 12, 2019 02:12 PM

GUILDERLAND – With the ceremonial check for $11,000, members of the Johnstown Sir Bills and Lady Bills have a few more dollars to pay their bills before they take the field next month.

On Monday morning at Crossgates Mall, Mike Tesoriero, store manager of Dick's Sporting Goods presented the check from the company's Sports Matter Foundation. In late June, the school budget was cut and to restore it, Johnstown needed to raise $311,000 to field teams for the next three years. The district said it would cover the $200,000 for transportation.


"We know that it's more than just a game in these kids' lives because we're with them every day at practice and we know it's more than just a game," said Christine Krempa, varsity field hockey coach and a member of the steering committee.

Said Interim Athletic Director Mike Satterlee: "Unfortunately we were dealt a death blow when the budget went down and fortunately for the efforts of the community, people like Christine and the other coaches we've been able to at least move forward enough right now that we're able to offer something for everyone and we're going to continue offering sports as they have in the past."

According to Dick's Sports Matter Foundation, 24-percent of high schools don't even offer youth sports right now and 63-percent of current school budgets nationwide are either stagnant or declining. You'll recall voters passed a school budget back in June, after voting it down first in May. The second version that did pass included cuts to some sports programs.

"There's so much that goes on with sports I couldn't imagine having gone through high school without the opportunity to play sports or have arts programs in school," said Tesoriero. "It's crazy to think about."

In Johnstown, there are 420 athletes in grades 7-12, 60-percent of the student body – and 40-percent of those kids play more than one sport, Satterlee said.

Krempa says it's not just a budget issue, a life issue.

"This summer's been extremely stressful for both of us and for pretty much every coach in the district," she said.

Right after the budget vote, a "Save Our Sports Telethon" raised $96,000 in one night. By late July they were up to $120,000. They've raised $22,000 in August and sit at $206,000 so far. There are donations from Stewart's ($10,000) and Walmart ($5,000) plus the hat has been passed from the Class of '63, '67, '93 & '99. Checks have come from Japan, Texas and Missouri, too. At Dick's, you can donate to the Sports Matter Foundation by rounding up your change or making a specific donation.

"This is our first time having to do this and we're kind of flying by the seat of our pants and learning as we go," Krempa said. "Hopefully we never have to do it again."


WNYT Staff

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