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BC sports teams play cash strapped seasons

Next year's budget unlikely to offer relief

Few would question the tenacity and dedication of Bethlehem Central's student athletes, but if there's one thing the 2009-10 sports seasons have shown, it's that their parents and fellow community members can be just as hard working.

Despite deep budget cuts this year that impacted everything from after school clubs to bus routes, athletic teams that practice and compete off district property that had their funding for facility rental removed will be finishing full seasons thanks to community efforts that closed the gaps.

BC Superintendent Michael Tebbano said the district worked closely with parents and booster clubs last year to make sure they would be able to do fundraising before making the cuts.

It was one of the plans the [school] board had last year in dealing with the difficult budget we had, he said, adding that the reductions were necessary to avoid cutting teams outright.

Similar support has developed for co curricular clubs and musical activities.

The BC Ice Hockey Team had its $21,000 facility rental funding removed from the 2009-20 budget, but will be playing its final regular season game Saturday, Feb. 13, before moving on to playoffs as it completes one of its most successful seasons in years under the leadership of first-year head coach Andre Rodrigue, who attributed the program's survival to the hockey booster club.

"The boosters have done a lot," he said. "It hasn't been easy, but it's given the kids and the boosters a sense of ownership of the team this year."

BC Hockey Booster Club member David Taillon said fundraising has been the club's focus all year.

"It's like eating an elephant, we didn't do one thing that just raised the money," he said.

The booster club has organized a golf tournament, car washes and a raffle that will be drawn at the Senior Night game on Saturday, where the 23-member team's eight seniors will be honored. One can also support the team by shopping on Amazon.com. Going to the site through the team's Web site at varsity.bethlehemhockey.org means that the team gets a cut of the purchase price.

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