Battle Creek Central senior Scott Krug had to wait more than a year for a cross-country season that almost didn’t happen.
After previously attending Pennfield, Krug came to Battle Creek Central and had to miss his junior cross-country season due to a Michigan High School Athletic Association transfer rule.
But in July, it looked like Krug would miss out on running for the Bearcats altogether after the Battle Creek Public Schools Board of Education voted to cut boys’ and girls’ cross-country along with six other sports in an effort to save $36,000 from an expected $2.4 million budget shortfall for the 2012-13 school year.
Instead, some anonymous donors stepped in and saved the boys’ and girls’ cross-country season along with the other fall sports that were on the chopping block. The winter and spring sports that were in danger of being dropped are also expected to be saved although funding for those haven’t yet been solidified.
“Maybe a week before the first official practice started, I heard there wasn’t going to be a practice,” Krug said. “Then I freaked out, and finally figured out there was (a practice) and I was so thankful. I couldn’t do it last year because I switched schools… so I would have been devastated if I couldn’t do it my senior year.”
Due to budgetary concerns, the BCPS board came to the decision to cut boys’ and girls’ cross-country, boys’ and girls’ tennis, boys’ and girls’ golf, and boys’ and girls’ bowling most of which had seen declining participation in recent years.
“If your going to get to a point where you cut a program, you want to cut one that has the least impact on the student body, in areas that won’t affect many students,” said Battle Creek Central Athletic Director Michael VanHoven. “Once we get through the season we will re-evaluate and see where we are at.
“I wouldn’t want to see any sports cut and I don’t think anybody wants to see any sports cut. We all want as many as possible. (The school board) has been making some tough decisions. It gives our students a very positive place to be after school.”
The cost for a school to offer a varsity sport includes a coaches’ stipend, payment for officials, transportation, equipment and uniforms among other expenses.
A Class A school with an enrollment over 1,400, eight sports are being offered at Battle Creek Central this fall football, volleyball, girls’ swimming and diving, boys’ soccer, girls’ golf, boys’ and girls’ cross-country and boys’ tennis.
BCC varsity boys’ tennis coach Richard Brenne was out hitting with the eight members of his team this week at the school’s tennis courts. The courts were built in 2010 as part of renovations aimed at keeping BCC’s athletes on campus after years of playing at various sites across Battle Creek.
“I was keeping them in the loop, trying to get them out here hitting,” Brenne said. “There was a possibility we might have it, so we just tried to keep our games intact and hope for the best. And some anonymous donors stepped up and it was the best news ever. Plus with the new facility, it would be a travesty to see them just sitting here and not being used.”
The BCC boys’ tennis team will be young this year, with Robert Gildea serving as the team’s lone senior and four-year varsity member. The Bearcats do bring back some experience on the court with six players from last year’s seven-man squad.
Had the tennis program been cut this year, it would have stalled any growth or possibly put an end to any future the sport had at the school. That was the situation facing the fall sports that have been saved, and what BCC athletic programs will be facing in future seasons.
“In my experience, it has been difficult once a sport has been eliminated to bring it back,” VanHoven said. “We’ve gotten about 2/3 of the funding to get through the year. We definitely have enough to get through the fall and the winter.”
Mike Armock, the head cross-country coach, said his team had planned to do some fundraising in an effort to save the 2012 season.
“We talked about fundraising, but with the number of dollars we needed to raise, we were fortunate for the private donors,” Armock said. “I can help make a few hundred, but that doesn’t put a drop in the bucket. We are still doing fundraising to come up with more money, but we could never have done it without the generosity of the donors we have.”
Krug had a simple message for the anonymous donors who made his senior cross country season possible: “Thank you so much. I know there are not a lot of people who do the sports that they cut, but I know that the people that do them are super excited and thankful.”