Riders football mounts comeback

Board okays private funding effort for pigskin program

KINDERHOOK — Four network affiliate TV station crews set up in the middle school cafeteria for board meeting this week, joining district residents and several members of the Ichabod Crane football team in anticipation that the board would act to authorize the revival of the district’s gridiron program.

The board had scheduled its annual organization meeting for Tuesday, July 12, and on the agenda was approval for the Football Committee to raise money to support the team for the 2011-12 school year.

Why all the media coverage? The issue of football was big news in the district this spring, when the school budget was voted down in May after the board made a last-minute allocation of $31,000 in district funds to support the football program. The board subsequently adopted a budget that did not have any funding for football. It seemed at the time that the board’s budget decision had effectively killed the high school football program, which was started three years ago and has been supported since then through private fundraising and donations; it has not been part of the district budget.

But Tuesday the board gave the committee its permission to raise the $31,469 needed to support the program if it can do so by August 15, when practice is scheduled to start. “As long as it’s through private funds,” the board was willing to support the program, said board member Thomas Neufeld. After the vote the board took a break while the TV crews interviewed the team members.

Cheryl Trefzger, a former president of the football booster club and spokesperson for the group, said the media circus started after a report that one student was being looked at by a college with nationally ranked football team just as the district was cutting the program.

The ABC-TV affiliate in Albany, WTEN, Channel 10, aired a report July 11 about Shawn Gerkman, an ICC junior, being contacted by the University of Oklahoma for a national event, according to his mother, Tricia. The story characterized the situation as a “Hail Mary pass” to save football at the school. The Times Union newspaper in Albany also did a story about Shawn. The NBC affiliate, Channel 13, and the CBS station, Channel 6, ran pieces after the meeting about Shawn and the board’s decision at the meeting.

The Albany media stories focused on the need for the booster club to raise the funds in a month. But the football committee has already raised $17,000 for this season’s expenses and has several thousand more dollars in promised donations. Ms. Trefzger told the board the committee could raise the money for the program.

There was some debate over raising funds for the 2012-13 school year, and at the meeting the board only approved the fundraising for this year.

There was debate after the camera crews left about whether or not the booster club is raising money for other sports. Athletic director Paul Thompson, who reported on successes in all sports in the district earlier in the meeting, said that the booster club is a conduit for money getting to the district and the football group is one part of the club. “There are an awful lot of people who think they are the football club,” said board member Bruce Naramore.

The board created an athletic committee at the meeting that will look into the sports programs at the school and funding sources.

Since it was the organization meeting, the board appointed its officers: Andrew Kramarchyk will remain president of the board, Regina Rose will serve as vice president.

The next board meeting will be Tuesday August 2 at 7 p.m. in the Middle School Library.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale at


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