KINDERHOOK–Cheryl Trefzger, the co-chair of the Booster Club’s Football Committee, said that her group has been talking about starting a football team at Ichabod Crane school for at least 5 years and that she thinks the discussion goes back 25 years. Ms. Trefzger and her group, co-chaired with Mike Smith, have been raising money for two years to fund a pilot program in the district. The junior varsity is already up and running and the varsity team will start this fall.
The Booster Club will be raising money throughout the year, starting at the team’s first home game on September 4, to fund the program through the 2010 season. After that the school board will have to appropriate the funds to continue the team into the 2011-2012 budget.
Schools Superintendent James Dexter said the board will start discussing whether to fund the program in the winter and spring of 2011.
Ms. Trefzger said that having the club, an outside group, raise the money to start the team has helped to show the board that there is support in the community for a football program at Ichabod Crane. But even with that show of support, she said one of the biggest worries she hears from community members is that the cost of the program will be astronomical.
The group originally estimated it would need $180,000 but found that number way too high. The club has abandoned plans to have a modified team, a move that saved money. The volunteer group has now raised about $58,000 to fund the 2009 JV team and gave the district $39,085 for the 2009-10 JV and varsity teams. Ms. Trefzger says the group hopes to have the $42,000 for 2010-2011teams raised by the end of this football season.
She stressed that if the board does decide to continue the program after the three-year pilot program funded by the club is up, the cost will not be great for taxpayers and that the community will befit from having the sport in the district. She said that for $1.50 per district household, “You have a program that gives the community a Friday night event.”
Board of Education President John Phillips said that approving the pilot program was “a relatively easy decision,” since the booster club is funding it. “I’ve supported it because a significant number of parents have asked for it,” he said.
But he doesn’t support building a field for the team, at least right now. Mr. Phillips said that originally he heard some very large numbers thrown around about a capital project to build a field for football on land already owned by the district. It later became clear the team could play on the existing fields and also use fields owned by the Town of Kinderhook.
“I personally could support [the football program] if we could continue on our current fields,” said Mr. Phillips, but he doesn’t think that in these difficult economic times anyone would support a bond issue with a big price tag.
Though the Booster Club is raising the funds for the team, the school administration hires the coaches, finds the practice fields and makes sure there is no conflict with other teams. Superintendent Dexter said that it’s been a challenge but that he program has been successful. “The kids and the coaches have done a marvelous job,” he said.
More than half the students on the JV team had not played other sports in the district, Mr. Dexter said.. The football program “tapped into a group of students that don’t play other sports,” she said. The team played only away games last fall. That point was emphasized by Ms. Trefzger
The first home game September 4 will be another big fundraiser for the football pilot program, she said. Supporters plan to have a barbecue and a 50/50 raffle.
She also sees the game as a way to raise awareness about the program. Ms. Trefzger wants to get the word out about the game and to get people from the community to attend because the game will be played before the start of the school year and “because we really want to know the community supports it,” she said. But as she also noted, the community has already contributed over $100,000 to support the program.
More information about the football committee fundraising can be found through a link on the Ichabod Crane District website www.ichabodcrane.org or by calling Cheryl Trefzger at (518) 758-8148.