The North Shore Schools District has always prided itself on its athletics, with roughly 70 percent of all students participating in at least one sport at school. One growing group of parents, however, is making the case that the schools should be doing more.
North Shore Athletics Advocates, a group of parents of student-athletes in the district, have been outspoken in their belief that the schools can and should do more to promote athletics in the district, particularly in terms of providing better facilities and equipment. Two specific topics they have taken umbrage with are the lack of proper uniforms for student-athletes and the delayed replacement of the decade-old turf field, which have come up at several school board meetings this year.
Chris Wolfe, of Glen Head is one of the group’s co-founders, and serves as a board member of the Booster Club, in addition to being a Platinum member, meaning his family has donated a certain amount of money to the Booster Club. He explained that Athletics Advocates are not trying to criticize the administration, but rather secure its support for the future.
“We want to see the district, the administration and the board of trustees, you know, really support our athletics,” Wolfe said. “Help us with our facilities issues and give us the money we need in order to get the district up to where comparable schools are.”
The group began to form in late February, during meetings of the North Shore Schools’ Booster Club. According to Ally Begley, of Glen Head, another co-founder of Athletics Advocates and a Bronze member of the Booster Club, there was a shared sense among the parents that the quality of the facilities and general support for the district’s athletics programs had stagnated over the years.
“I’ve been participating in the booster club for a number of years, and we’ve all noticed a decline in our facilities,” Begley said. “We started to really feel that there was an underrepresentation of the voice of athletics, so we realized that we really needed to band together to do more for our athletics and our students.”
Athletics Advocates have short and long-term goals. In the short-term, they are hoping to make minor maintenance changes and improvements, such as ensuring all students have proper equipment and uniforms.
Long-term goals are more ambitious. Athletics Advocates hope to have the board create a capital gains project specifically for athletics. They would earmark funds for bigger projects, like getting a new turf field and adding signage to other fields.
The group has been growing since their unofficial formation, with many members of the Booster Club itself adding to their ranks. In fact, all three of the co-founders of Athletics Advocates are contributors to the Booster Club, with Chris Wolfe serving on its five-person board.
According to their Facebook group, which launched on May 4, they already have 319 members. The third member of the triumvirate of co-founders, Joanna Clancy of Glen Head and another Platinum member of the Booster Club, said the response from the community has been immediate and uplifting.
“We definitely feel supported by our community,” Clancy elaborated. “It’s really enabled us to start working to reach our goal, and all of the board candidates and Dr. Dolan and Dr. Zublionis and athletics director Don Lang have all been very vocal and very supportive of us.”
Gaining the support of the board was especially important in the context of the elections for school board members. Athletics Advocates held their own meet the candidates on April 26, where five of the eight candidates were asked athletics-specific questions. All of the candidates expressed their support for the athletics program and promised to support the athletics department and facilities if elected.
Athletics Advocates are planning to try and meet with the Board of Education after the election, to begin discussions on implementing their goals as soon as possible.
“The same way our kids work together as teams on the sports field, we‘re trying to work together and communicate as a team, with the Booster Club and the Board of Education,” Begley explained. “We’re confident that this has been an untapped voice for a while, and we want to continue this momentum and keep it going forward.”