Financial struggles run alongside cross country

By Theresa Van, Lifestyle Editor

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The enrollment in Terrace’s cross country team has nearly quadrupled this year compared to the team’s last season. Some project that the massive increase of students on the team will create financial problems going forward. 

Cross country is a non-cut sport, meaning that all students who are willing and able to be on the team automatically have a spot if they fill out the necessary paperwork and attend practices. All team members must also pay a fee of $100 to cover the expenses that are generated by students participating in sports, such as competition fees and equipment costs.

The situation may sound bad, but not all think so. Student-athlete and sophomore cross country member Ezra Fenwick believes that the team’s record enrollment of students will result in far more positives than negatives. 

“I think that this is a net gain for the team. This is true especially given that the majority of our varsity will be graduating soon, so this is a good thing,” Fenwick said.

Our goal was to love, cherish and take care of every Terrace student-athlete that we could. We welcome each student-athlete who can join our family. We fundraised and recruited like crazy! This is the best problem to have! Our family has grown!”

— Joel Pearson

While the seniors on the varsity team prepare to graduate in June, many players think that the many newly enrolled students will be able to ensure that Terrace’s cross country remains highly skilled and dominant at competitions.

According to Joel Pearson, the head coach of the cross country team, last year’s team consisted only of 18 students, with only 16 boys and two girls. This year, that number has nearly quadrupled, resulting in an alarming total of 66 students on the team. The total is concerning, considering the previous record for enrollment in a single year was 41 students. While no problems have yet surfaced, there have been situations in the past where funding for the team has been an issue, even with far less than 66 students on the team.. 

Pearson’s predecessor as coach of the cross country team, Todd Weber, experienced occasional funding issues when he was in charge of the team. However, he was able to resolve most of the issues through participation in community fundraisers. 

“We always seem to be ok with getting a couple car washes in,” Weber said. We would maybe do a couple other things we were always pretty comfortable with, although there were times where we would need a bus or two and we never did have the money to pay for those things like that because the district didn’t help.”

Because of tough situations like these, sports team coaches are put in really tough positions, as it is the financial duty of the coach to minimize the cost for individual team members. But every once in a while, coaches have to ask for a little more support from the athletes and their families.

This year the student-athletes gathered the support of friends, family and support staff to raise $8,000 that will fund trips to competitions and other expenses while making sure no member of the cross country “family” gets left behind. 

“Our goal was to love, cherish and take care of every Terrace student-athlete that we could,” Pearson said. “We welcome each student-athlete who can join our family. We fundraised and recruited like crazy! This is the best problem to have! Our family has grown!” 

The effects of the issue have already started to surface when the cross country team could not afford to send all of their athletes to a competition in Hawaii even after all of their fundraising efforts. That money instead, was saved for their one-night trips to Spokane and Yakima. The trip was supposed to last two nights, but due to the school district preventing the team from taking all 66 students for two nights, their stay was cut a day short. 

On top of that, some parents have been reported to have expressed their concern about two-night trips, but Coach Pearson hopes he’ll be able to convince both parties to support the idea for the future. 

“I hope to have 200–250 student-athletes in the track and field family,” Pearson said. “I project we will grow. After we grow, it will be the coaching staff’s job to build a sound staff, sound training, a competitive schedule and fundraise enough to travel the individuals to the best meets!”

Pearson has many hopes for the future that likely will take the cross country team to new heights, even in the face of financial adversity. 

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