Over the last few years, budget cuts have become a part of the high school sports world, creating a nightmare for local athletic departments.
The cuts already haven taken a toll on varsity sports programs at Panther Valley and Tamaqua. Both schools have been forced to cut sports due to budget restraints.
Because of those money problems, booster clubs and sponsors have had to step up and lend a helping hand to save sports programs. That has happened at both Tamaqua and Palmerton in the past year.
The on-going issue of potential cuts doesn't make the life of an athletic director any easier. In fact, several ADs are taking measurable steps to try and avoid more potential cuts.
"This is what is happening in athletics, the budgets are getting crunched," Tamaqua Athletic Director Mike Hromyak said. "You're asked to reduce your budget by 10 percent. When you're budget is small to begin with, reducing it by 10 percent makes it even tougher. It's an unfortunate issue we have to deal with."
Because they can't rely solely on generous donations and booster clubs to save the day, athletic departments are constantly looking for other options.
Over the last few weeks, it has become apparent that many athletic departments are trying to take steps to alleviate issues with budget cuts.
At Tamaqua, one of those steps is adding admission charges for sporting events that were previously free to attend.
Like all schools, Tamaqua charges admission for football, basketball and wrestling. It also charges for volleyball, soccer and track. But this school year, Tamaqua will begin charging admission to swimming events in the winter, and baseball and softball in the spring.
It was a move Hromyak felt was necessary.
"It's another opportunity to make some money," Hromyak said. "As we all know, budgets are getting tighter and tighter, it's just another area that we're looking at the possibility of gaining a couple of bucks for income for the athletic department.
"We have a 'pay to participate' fee in our school. We had that for two or three years now. Still, it's so hard to keep these programs afloat. The money is just tough to come by."
Come Spring, track fans will also see an increase in admission. Instead of the normal $2 and $1 for adults and students, it will now be $5 and $2.
"I think our community understands it," Hromyak said. "It's certainly something that you don't like to do. I have a hard time with it. But, those extra couple of dollars do add up.
"It's a fee that gets charged to the people that want the product."
The move of charging for several 'non-traditional admission sports' has also started at Northern Lehigh. Bulldog Athletic Director Bryan Geist has added field hockey, boys soccer and girls soccer to the list that previously had only included football, basketball and wrestling.
It was a move Geist said was made to benefit Bulldogs fans and local residents.
"We are trying to avoid any type of tax increase to our home owners," Geist said. "This is direct money being spent by sports parents and fans to support our sports programs. It is very difficult to meet budget constraints when fees for officials increase, athletic supplies increase and fuel prices continue to rise.
"So, the increase in gate receipts will allow the athletic department to get closer to financial independence and help the athletic fund."
While Tamaqua and Northern Lehigh are part of a growing trend throughout District 11, some schools still haven't had to go that route.
Athletic Director Kyle Spotts said Lehighton will stick with charging admission for only football, basketball and wrestling.
He said adding admission charges for other sports hasn't been discussed at all within his athletic department.
Meanwhile, Hromyak is hoping that the prices Tamaqua is charging now will not increase anytime in the near future. .
"I would like to hope it stays pretty much stagnant with the prices that we have today," Hromyak said. "That it's not going to be annual increases of a quarter or 50 cents or a dollar. I would think that we're hopefully going to be pretty stable here for awhile."
TENNIS SEEDS RELEASED ... Six TIMES NEWS area girls have qualified for the District 11 Singles Tournament that gets underway this week at West End Racquet Club in Allentown.
Pleasant Valley's Madison Olexson will compete in the Class AAA bracket that gets underway at 1 p.m. on Friday with first and second rounds to be played.
Olexson will face No. 7 seed Tuquyen Pham of Parkland in the first round.
Tamaqua had three girls qualify and Jim Thorpe had two for the Class AA bracket that begins play at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
Nicki Mateyak of Tamaqua takes on Emily Zanette of Pen Argyl, Vicky Krousse of Tamaqua faces Emily Hammel of Notre Dame of Green Pond and Sarah Zoba of Tamaqua meets No. 4 seed Kayla Bohnhorst of Saucon Valley in first round matchups.
Jim Thorpe's Bryanna Kehrli will square off against Mara Blanchard of Bethlehem Catholic and Jim Thorpe's Kasey Herman meets Salisbury's Ali Greenholt in their first round contests.
The finals are scheduled for Monday, Oct. 8 at West End.
LEADERS OF THE PACK ..... Jim Thorpe's Christian Fields and Marian Catholic's Phil Marzen are surley enjoying some success on the trails in the midst of Schuylkill League Cross Country action this season.
While both weren't able to beat any Pottsville runner to the finish line this season, the Olympians and Colts haven't had any problems against other members of the Schuylkill League. While finishing in third place against the Tide, Fields finished ahead of the pack with all first-place honors against Blue Mountain, CMVT, Mahanoy Area, Pine Grove, Minersville and Shenandoah Valley this season.
Marzen, on the other hand, has seen either a first place or second place in league action. Marzen finished first against Mahanoy Area, Schuylkill Haven and Weatherly. However, he had to settle for second against both Minersville and Nativity.
Fields has also scored a first (Schuylkill Haven), second (Pine Grove), fifth (Moravian Academy) and seventh (Northampton) at invitationals throughout the season. His seventh place finish had some extra meaning to it however as it was a career best, and personal record, for the season as far as time goes. Fields finished the 3.1 mile course in a time of 16:52.
While Marzen holds the school course record at Marian (18:26), his PR for the season is 19:05, which came in his fifth place finish against Pottsville.
POSTSEASON LINKS .... Over the last week, a conference champion was crowned on the greens and fairways within both the Schuylkill League and the Mountain Valley Conference.
The Colts seized the moment themselves at Blue Mountain Golf Course where the SL Division II Champions were able to capture the league overall championship title. The Colts, led by mentor Len Brylewski, carded a championship low team score of 313, which ousted next best of 322 by Division I Champion Pottsville.
Unfortunately, for both Pleasant Valley and Lehighton, they weren't able to outlast Stroudsburg for the team title at Delaware Water Gap Country Club. The Bears and Indians finished fourth and sixth respectively.
The Indians' Jordan Knappenberger however, was able to capture top honors for the locals. Knappenberger shot a low score of 84 to win the Second Flight.
ROTTET ON THE MOVE .... Kailee Rottet is one goal away from breaking the Tamaqua girls' soccer program single season record of 31. She is currently is tied with Ali Updike. She is one of the reason why the Blue Raiders stand at 10-4-1 overall and 6-2-1 in the league this season.
Each game, Rottet continues to build on her career goal record mark where she currently sits with 93 goals. She surpassed the mark of 88, which was also held by Updike, who was a 2011 graduate.
Rottet continues to tear things up on a continuous basis, however over the weekend Rottet accounted for all four goals in a 4-0 victory over Jim Thorpe. It was nothing new for Rottet as she already has scored four goals in a single game three times before this season.
Rottet surpassed that impressive mark with one more (5) against Palmerton earlier this season. The Blue Raiders senior has scored four against JT, Nativity, North Schuylkill and Hamburg this season.
Rottet's lone hat trick came against Columbia Montour Vo-Tech. She has also scored two goals twice in a game this season, while has only scored one in three different games.
Rottet was only held scoreless against Schuylkill Haven, Pine Grove, Kutztown and Pottsville thus far in 2012.