Sports boosters aims to maximize athletic experience


Jennifer Gao and Joshua Yang

Gunn Sports Boosters, a nonprofit organization formed collaboratively by parents, coaches and community members, provides much of the financial support for Gunn Athletics. Throughout the course of each year, Sports Boosters handles hundreds of thousands of dollars. “The amount of money that is raised by the Sports Boosters has been in the $100,000 to $200,000 range annually,” Sports Boosters co-president Brian Missett said. “And then that is roughly the same amount of money that is distributed to the athletic programs every year.”

The non-profit’s main purpose is to provide much-needed financial support for Gunn Athletics, but it also strives to make attending sports events fun for all. “We think it’s something that should be a good time,” Missett said. “We’re looking forward to trying to organize not only a lot of fundraisers, but a lot of what could best be described as pizza and donut parties to rally folks around the cause and get people out there to support each other as you guys compete.”

Ideally, Missett wants athletes to have the same advantages as other well-funded programs. “Our focus is really making sure that the experience the student-athlete has is similar in the sports realm to what it would be in the academic realm, theater realm or music realm,” Missett said. “We just want it to be an outstanding experience all the way around.”

One such program that has benefitted from the organization is water polo. Girls water polo coach Mark Hernandez acknowledged the assistance provided by Sports Boosters. “Sports Boosters has been great for us,” he said. “We have had a lot of contributions, and they have been very kind to us with supporting our facility and equipment requests. We ask for help, and they give it to us.”

However, there are some calls for Gunn Sports Boosters to do more. For example, Hernandez mentioned his desire for more funding for certain aspects of the water polo program. “We’d like more money to buy more equipment more often,” he said. “Our program is trying to be efficient with resources. We tried to be reasonable and tried to be decently frugal because we are aware of the pressures that are at play for our school and our district.”

Hernandez also wishes that his current budget would allow him to easily manage all aspects of the team. “It does get to be a lot when you’re trying to come up with practice plans and game plans and also run all the finances,” he said. According to Hernandez, having the funding to hire additional coaches or managers would solve this issue.

The issue extends beyond water polo; several members from cross country have voiced their concerns over a lack of funding. “Cross-country uniforms were tight last year,” cross country captain Justin Chiao said. “We borrow uniforms now, but we buy everything else—including running shoes, racing shoes and fancy socks—ourselves.”

According to Chiao, at one point, some members of the boys cross country team had to wear old jerseys from the girls team.

Missett maintains that Sports Boosters is as fair as possible with the allocation of donations. “Part of our responsibility is to balance the money that we’re giving both over time and on a needs-based basis,” he said. “We’re ensuring equality across the sports as opposed to creating an unequal distribution.”

Missett suggests a lack of funding could have impacted athletic departments at Gunn across the board. “I’m aware of times when students have needed to purchase parts of their own uniforms—things along those lines,” he said. “It’s because Sports Boosters has not been as successful at fundraising as we would like, which is one of the things we’re working to change. But when you are short on funds, you still try to spread the remaining funds.”