NORTH METRO, Ga. — It appears likely that high school spring sports will be on for 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 campaign for local programs. However, there is still uncertainty on whether some of those teams fundraising efforts will be enough to continue the status quo.
One group impacted by the economic crunch of the pandemic, and facing funding concerns of its own, is the Roswell Lacrosse Booster Club. While the school does fund many aspects of the program, the booster club supports off-season training, pre-game meals, equipment purchase and replacement, promotional and sponsorships costs, goods for game-day concessions and more. And like many sports programs in the area, finances are tight heading into the 2021 season.
The Club has two major sources of funding. Its sponsorship program highlights businesses throughout the season during games, on social media and through other avenues. The Club also sells restaurant discount cards in the community which aid the lacrosse program and drive business to participating eateries.
“The pandemic has hit hardest those business that have traditionally been the strongest supporters of the Roswell Lacrosse program,” Booster Club President Paul Provenzano said. “We’ve been fortunate to maintain strong support by local restaurants to participate in lax card program, [but] our business sponsorship initiative is much behind where we were last year, with most businesses citing tightening of the belt as a result of COVID. We have even seen some of our past business supporters and sponsors close their doors.”
The booster club and players are still selling the restaurant cards — which feature discounts for eateries like Jonny’s Pizza, Scooter’s Coffee, Hola! and others — but not at the same rate of prior years. Sales are expected to drop about 20 percent from last year.
Provenzano said sales have been slowed by less discretionary spending amid the pandemic, and many are simply dining out less often. Players would typically go door-to-door or post up in front of restaurants to sell the cards, but those methods have been nixed amid COVID-19.
The downfall in income could impact the day-to-day operations of the program, but the club is hoping the impacts will not stretch into higher costs for families. Roswell Lacrosse is one of the deepest programs in the area with a solid junior and youth program that feeds the varsity squad.
Funding may not have the rosiest outlook for Roswell lacrosse this season, but at the varsity level, hopes are high for the 2021 season.
The boys team, winners of the 2014 and 2015 state titles, are poised for a strong season under Bryan Wallace, who takes over the program after serving as the offensive coordinator and assistant varsity coach last season. Wallace is one of the winningest coaches in Georgia high school lacrosse. He compiled a 141-33 record during his 8-year tenure with Centennial.
The boys squad also has strong talent, including Army commit Evan Plunkett and University of Lynchburg signee Connor Moore.
The team went 5-1 during the abbreviated 2020 season and were ranked No. 5 in the state by MaxPreps.
The girls team was also enjoying success ahead of the cancellation of the 2020 season, and while some key players to that squad have graduated, the Hornets are still primed for a strong season behind Kennesaw State University commit Hannah Davis and company.