The worst economic recession since the Great Depression has been more than just a story on the evening news. Students have felt the impact in the classroom, with larger classes and older textbooks that haven’t been replaced in a decade. The recession’s sting has not been confined to academics, however. Athletes have felt the fallout as well.

According to Athletic Director Lynn Metcalf, the new transportation fee for athletes has not made an impact on the number of students they have seen coming to tryouts.

“We try to take care if there are any certain cases where the fee cannot be paid because that’s not going to be a reason for an athlete not to participate. We have donors and people who will fund that for them,” Metcalf said.

In order to have the fee paid for them, students must personally approach an administrator or coach and explain that their family cannot afford to pay the $20 required fee.

Metcalf said the school is taking measures to reduce the amount of money that athletes have to pay in order to participate in sports.

“‘Pay-to-play,’ that’s the wrong terminology. The correct terminology is that they have to pay $20 at the high school level in order to help cover activity bus travel fees and insurance that is purchased for all athletes in Henderson County,” Metcalf said.

Coaches are also taking care of the travel fee for some athletes. For example, women’s basketball coach, Robbie Lowrance, paid the travel fee for his athletes with fundraiser money.

“I paid everyone’s travel fee, but things are getting pretty expensive these days,” Lowrance said. “Everyone had to buy their own sweats and everything else was extra.”

In order to play women’s basketball, team members spent approximately $140 on shoes and clothing. Cheerleaders also had to fork out quite a bit of cash, according to junior Mary Katherine Thompson.

“We ended up having to pay somewhere near $300 for our shoes, bows and camp. We did multiple fundraisers like car washes and selling Krispy Kreme gift cards to help offset the costs,” Thompson said.

One student, who had previously participated on the school’s swim team and asked not to be identified, said she chose not to swim this year because of the expensive swimsuits, the travel fee and the gas needed to go to practice.

“Swim practices are at a pool 45 minutes away from my house, and the cost of the gas to get there was just too high for my family to pay because of the economy,” the student said.

By Brian Arden

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