Second $10K donation seeks to assuage costly athletic fees at BHS

The Bainbridge Island School Board received a recent donation of $10,000, which will be used to alleviate the costly financial requirements for many aspiring student athletes at Bainbridge High School this year.

Athletic participation fees at BHS are $250 per student per sport, the highest in the state, according to BHS Athletic Director Kaycee Taylor.

It is an expense in addition to the regular $45 payment for a student ID (an “ASB card”) paid by all students, as well.

The donation is the second installment of a three-year, $30,000 grant from the Leslie &Michael Lebeau Philanthropic Fund at Bainbridge Communication Foundation, allotted specifically to the cause of increasing student access to sports opportunities.

Accordingly, the funds will again be allocated to support reducing or eliminating access fees for all sports, school officials said.

The gift was accepted by BHS Principal Kristen Haizlip on Aug. 15.

Without such grants, and much fundraising and other donations, there would be no way for many island students to participate in athletics, Taylor explained.

“BHS has the highest sports fee in the state and it is only through fundraising, donations like Michael Lebeau and Bainbridge Community Foundation, the Paski Foundation, Bainbridge Island Rotary and Bainbridge Booster Club, and generous individuals or agreements I have made with Adidas for uniforms, that we can even begin to fill the gaps between what our budget is and what our needs are,” Taylor said.

“The $250 fee does not come close to covering the athletic program. Additionally, many families shoulder the burden of paying, or fundraising, for extras like game day spirit wear, summer camps, strength and conditioning coaching, team warm ups, team dinners, gifts to coaches, etc.”

The school does grant waivers in specific cases, Taylor said, to allow for some students to participate despite the cost.

“The school does not want fees to be a barrier to accessing athletics,” Taylor explained. “So, even though there are these costs, BHS grants waivers, partial or full, to families who make a request due to finical reasons or who have multiple athletes or athletes who play multiple sports.”

Uniforms, Taylor said, are paid for by the school, and a lot of the necessary gear, too, especially for more expensive sports such as football.

“Some sports — swim [and] dive, for example — requires the athletes to buy their uniforms because those suits can not be reused the next year,” Taylor said. “Some athletes opt for their own gear — fastpitch [and] baseball bats, golfers’ shirts, tennis shorts, and the like.”

Participation fees do not, Taylor said, cover the costs of the athletic director, athletic trainer or athletic secretary’s salary. What a student gets for their money, though, he said, is “fairly comprehensive,” and includes, “travel to away games — ferry fees and buses — five or more practices a day, uniforms, a full schedule of games (it depends on the sport but this is anywhere from 10-20 games a season), officials for all games, quality venues for practice and games, a certified athletic trainer, concussion testing and protocols for return to participate, accommodations for teams [and] athletes who make it to State if the venue is more than two hours away.”

Additionally, all school sports have at least one paid head coach; many have several paid assistant coaches who must continually update their first aid, CPR and “sport-specific skills.”

Though it may be pricier at BHS than at other schools to compete athletically, Taylor said it remains more affordable than other programs.

“It is worth looking at the cost playing for a select club or non-BHS team,” he said. “[Like] lacrosse, [water] polo, crew, sailing, which is considerably higher.”

Given the numerous proven benefits of athletic involvement for students, BCF officials said the goal of the Lebeau fund was two-fold.

“The Lebeaus are hoping that by making the initial gift it will encourage others to give and will grow into something that can continually and permanently support youth sports access,” according to BCF officials. “They made a current gift directly to BHS for immediate needs and at the same time established a fund at the Community Foundation that will continue to grow.”

BCF acknowledged that, without such efforts, “many Bainbridge students cannot afford the cost to participate in youth sports.”

“Cost for participation shouldn’t be a barrier for any student who wants to improve their lives through sports,” according to BCF. “Youth sports are vital to the health and well-being of students.”

For more information, visit the foundation’s website at www.bainbridgecf.org, or www.tinyurl.com/BHS-Youth-Give to donate.

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