NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Students at a struggling Long Island school district were devastated because they thought they might lose their sports programs due to there being no money in the district’s contingency budget.
Those athletes may now have new hope thanks to $200,000 in private and community pledges pouring in from donors who say they won’t stop until the entire year is paid for.
Students at Wyandanch High School made a video appealing to the Long Island community: “Help us save our sports teams.”
“A lot of student-athletes really channel their emotions through sports,” said Wyandanch high school athlete Bryant Bonilla. “A lot of us, we come to school, really look forward to it and (it) helps us with our academics, too.”
“College coaches come to see us, won’t be able to see us if we don’t have any sports,” said Wyandanch basketball team captain Briana Davis.
Football practice is scheduled to begin on Monday.
Helmets pads and uniforms have not been sent out to be cleaned, repaired and recertified, because of the uncertainty, but school officials say other coaches in nearby communities have offered to let them borrow equipment in the meantime.
“As the principal of Wyandanch High School and a former athlete (in) football at Hofstra University, I know what sports does for students,” Paul Sibblies said.
Sports was slashed along with after-school programs and teachers were laid off and the superintendent was placed on leave when the Wyandanch school budget was voted down twice after years of financial turmoil and controversy.
“You know what, if there’s financial problems in the district, the ones who shouldn’t suffer are the kids,” said Steve Castelton.
Private donors are stepping up, and the county just pledged $150,000 in a state anti-gang grant.
“When we found out that Wynadanch youth would not have sports, we knew this was an issue that we had to address as a department,” said Deputy Suffolk Police Commissioner Risco Mention-Lewis.
“We are so humble, we are so grateful. We know that as Wyandanch Warriors, we stick together,” said coach and teacher Angelique Shannon.
“It increases teamwork. It increases problem-solving skills. It increases attendance. It builds comradery and it lifts morale,” said Dr. Gina Talbert.
It now appears Wyandanch fall sports are a go, with more to come.