“$20,000 is a little more than what Freedom can spend,” said Freedom Athletic Director Steve Amaro to several hundred athletes and parents at the school’s preseason sports night last week. “We don’t spend that on football. Not that football is more important than golf. It’s just that this is something that we don’t spend on any of our sports. Luckily, Bethel Island came to our rescue, so our girls golf team will be able to play this year. It’s a little windy out there, but they will learn to deal with it.”
State budget cutbacks are hurting school districts throughout the state.
“The state of the athletic department is ever fluctuating,” said Amaro. “We all know the economic times we live in are very hard. There have been some drastic impacts not only athletically but academically. Freshman English classes, which used to be 20-to-1 (student-to-teacher ratios) are now 30-to-1. All of the Freedom sports have lost all paid assistant coaching positions.
“There’s a lot of gloom and doom that can be said about this. But you can also look at the positive side. This is a time when our athletes can truly shine. This is a time when we can create some innovation and find ways where we can be maybe a model district for the entire state.”
Thus far the only athletes required to pay the $75 transportation fee are the football players, he said. But other sports could be affected as well, depending on whether they require bus transportation.
“If a team decides to take a bus, we are going to have to charge parents for that,” he said. “I do hope that the Freedom community continues to rally around what we have done better than all of other high schools, which is that we have a lot of parent drivers. When a bus leaves this lot and goes the two-mile trek to Liberty, it costs us $500. So that adds up very quickly.”
Amaro told the players and parents to go online to www.highschoolsports.net to view the Freedom High page listing team schedules, rules, forms and newspaper articles.
He advised athletes to stay away from energy drinks, which he said can contain potentially unsafe levels of caffeine and which have led to the disqualification of Olympic athletes who drank them before competition. “Water’s the best thing, especially when it gets very hot,” he told the parents, adding, “Talk to your son and daughter about hydrating.”
He also provided cautionary advice about online social networking sites. “They have become very positive for people to get to know each other, but also have been very negative ways to break down self esteem,” he said. “At a school in Los Angeles’ girls basketball game the student section went to Myspace and found the point guard’s information. And when she went for a free throw they shouted out information from her Myspace page, and she went 0 for 10.” Providing too much personal information online can also lead to identify theft, he added.
The well-attended event in Freedom’s gymnasium was for the school’s fall sports teams: boys and girls water polo, football, coed cross country, girls golf, girls volleyball and girls tennis. After Amaro finished his remarks, the athletes and parents broke into groups based on the sport the student is planning to participate in and received more detailed information from the respective coaches.