By Natasha Kulick
The St. Michael’s College athletic department held the first Purple Knight Challenge, Oct. 11-25, among 21 varsity teams to raise $65,946 that will help to support team expenses.
Each varsity team competed to see who could source the most donors while raising money for their individual team. The athletes first called and asked parents for help fundraising. The donations themselves were made through GiveCampus.com. The link to this website was shared across social media platforms of the athletes, St. Michael’s community, alumni and friends.
The winning women’s and men’s teams were each promised an additional $500 from the athletic department. The goal of the department was to reach 500 donors. The baseball team sourced 501 donors while women’s soccer sourced 493 and in total, there were 2,159 donors. The money each team raised went directly to their program.
Chris Kenny the athletics director, said that the department works on an operating budget. The department covers basic travel, equipment, and lodging for all of the teams accordingly, he said. Each budget is assessed by the equipment, travel, referees, and playing or practice costs. The cross-country team, for example, has a smaller budget than the hockey team, because they do not require rink time or equipment.
“The school cannot afford everything, which is why it is great to get support from the community,” said lacrosse captain Neil Gallagher, ‘18. The varsity teams do need fundraising to keep athletes from paying much on their own, said Gallagher. Typically, teams are expected to fundraise for special trips, new uniforms and updated equipment. According to Gallagher, even though the lacrosse team earned $12,375 through the Purple Knight Challenge he said, players “may still have to pay for a few things out of pocket”.
Members of the ski team also have to pay out of pocket. Tristan McInnis ’17, an alpine skier on the St. Michael’s alpine ski team, said that Stowe increased the team’s fees from $4,000 to $10,000. “The team could have benefited from more donations, because we pay a bit more out of pocket compared to teams we compete against like University of Vermont,” McInnis said, adding that he is grateful for all the donations the team did receive through the campaign, especially from alumni.
Each team will use their money differently. The money raised by the baseball team will go toward their trip to Florida, as part of their season training according to the coach, Jason Szafarski. “The extra $500 will go toward new hoodies as a reward,” he said. The women’s soccer coach, Wendy Elles, said that the money they raised will primarily go toward getting their games live-streamed and their extra $500 will be spent on whatever her team decides.
Kenny said, “Most of the donors were first time donors including varsity alumni from the 40’s and 50’s,” Kenny said. This fundraiser was so successful due to the help from parents and alumni. Elles said, “We place a big emphasis on the importance of family. We also had parents getting donors from their workplace.”
In the past teams raised money through Phoneathon, a letter of appeal, or individual fundraisers. The team’s’ social media presence contributed to the success of this campaign as they competed with each other for the most donors. Kenny said that this campaign was the most successful one yet because it raised the most money they ever have in one year, which is why they will continue to do this fundraiser for the next few years.