Dear Editor:

We are writing in response to Peter and Susan Salerno's letter which was published in the November 21,2009 issue of The Times News. The Lehighton Athletic Booster Club (LABC) was established 51 years ago to encourage and promote athletic programs in the Lehighton Area. It is the Club's mission to teach the young children of the Lehighton Area how to play football, basketball, cheer, wrestle, and compete in track and field events to prepare them to be a part of the middle school and high school teams when they reach that age.

It was never part of the mission statement to have a mascot. We do not consider that an athletic program. We have come to learn that, over the years, several teams have had mascots. Evidently they took it upon themselves to do this. A mascot was never part of or approved by the membership of this Club. While we regret having to disappoint a 6-year-old child; unfortunately, this is what happens when parents choose to disregard procedures and rules. Mrs. Salerno's first request, made to an officer instead of attending a Club meeting, was for the Club to change the age requirements to allow their daughter to be a cheerleader. No matter what the Club changes the age requirement to, there will always be a child that is too young to participate. When the officer said that the Club wouldn't change the age requirement for their daughter, Mrs. Salerno then asked the officer if her daughter could be a mascot She was told that this needed to be discussed at the next meeting on November 12th. Mrs. Salerno was also asked to attend this meeting. Her response was "Thanks but no thanks." Prior to the meeting date, Mrs. Salerno approached the Club's newly elected President to get what she wanted. Since he is still learning the procedures of the Club and the responsibilities of his office, he was not fully aware of the proper response to such a request.

Let it be known that Mr. and Mrs. Salerno had three children involved in various LABC programs and chose not to be active members of the Club. Countless volunteer hours are spent running the programs of this Club. It is disappointing to us when parents who have children in the program do not want to get involved. This nine-member executive committee includes six members that no longer have children in any of the Club's programs because the program has meant so much to them in years past and no one is stepping up to replace them.

As for the claim of following the rules set forth by the President, there are discrepancies. It was brought up, at our November 12th meeting, that this child was attending practices and learning cheers and the cheerleader's dance which, as a mascot, she would not perform. The members in attendance all agreed that Mrs. Salerno was using this "mascot" position as a way of having her daughter be a cheerleader by going around the age requirements. It was further discussed that we have hundreds of children in our programs and cannot allow parents to manipulate the rules for one child's benefit. It is just not fair to the other children and it can only cause chaos in the program and continued disrespect of the rules.

Besides the fact that our mission statement has never included mascots, there are liability issues. Our sports participants are covered by insurance. Our insurance coverage and rates are based on the number of children that play each sport. It clearly specifies that it covers a certain number of participants (reported by the Club) in football, cheering, basketball, wrestling, and track and field. It does not specify covering a mascot.

We'd also like to point out that our bylaws are certainly available, upon request, and will be posted soon on our newly created website at www.labcindians.com [1]. The rules for each of the Club's sports are not part of the bylaws. These rules have been established over the years and updated by committees of active members, coaches, and executive officers as the need arises. As of November 17, 2009, there was a new rule added to each of the Club's sports that mascots are not allowed. These rules will also be posted on our new website.

We feel the decision we made was in the best interest of the Club; and that is our responsibility as officers. We certainly welcome anyone to become an active member of this Club and volunteer their time to make a difference. Our meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month in the basement of the American Legion Post on Bridge Street in Lehighton.

Sincerely,

The Executive Committeeof the Lehighton Athletic Booster Club

Jody Fenstemacher, Julie Harris,Sheila Knappenberger, Brandi Botek, Lamont Rodgers, Terry Smith,Bruce Hartman, Robert Stranger,John Borger