By: Emma Nani and Lauren Taylor
$897. That’s how much Wake County gives Leesville Road High School annually for sports. The school covers the rest of the funding.
PAC, or the Pride Athletic Association, is a group of Leesville parents dedicated to collecting funding, providing for the teams, and deciding budgets for the sports program.
Using ticket sale profits from games, PAC fills in the gaps $897 cannot cover and distributes it to cover fees like uniforms, equipment, and especially facility upkeep.
PAC and Coach Rogers
A group of board members run PAC; they are not teachers and do not work at the school.
Jon Duncan, the elected chairhead, is at the top of PAC’s board of directors. Connecting this board to the school is Jack Rogers, Leesville’s Athletic Director.
Rogers is the middleman between sports coaches and PAC. He meets with PAC at their quarterly conferences to advocate for the needs of the coaches at Leesville.
Rogers meets with PAC to determine if the coach’s needs are within budget. Some of those needs include, new uniforms, more basketballs, and travel expenses.
“We have quarterly meetings for PAC, and that’s when coaches will [propose the idea for specific equipment], and then I’m the liaison between the coaches and the PAC club, and I’ll say this is what we’re looking at.”
Rogers spoke on improvements the PAC has made for Leesville’s baseball and softball fields. “Most schools just have a chain-link fence around the [backstop]. We decided, six or seven years ago, that we were going to do a little brick wall and netting– more major leaguish,” said Rogers.
As Rogers said, most of PAC’s expenditures are not for uniforms. Funds mainly go towards keeping facilities updated and maintaining the grass on all fields.
Keeping up the grass fields on campus is by far the most expensive payment PAC spends.
Rogers said, “We spend about close to $50,000 a year just on grass. Cutting and fertilizing and seeding. [We] spend a lot of money trying to keep our facilities top-notch.”
Equality vs. Equity
When it comes to providing what the coaches need, the first step is a meeting with Rogers.
Every year, coaches create a list of any equipment they need. That means new netting for the batting cage or more cones. Their list then goes to Rogers where PAC decides if these items are all entirely necessary or not.
“We have a wants and needs list, and we sit down with the coaches and say ‘Okay you wanted 47 soccer balls, can we probably get by this year with 30 instead of 47’ — we break it down that way,” Rogers said.
Rogers hopes that by using this strategy, he can eliminate unnecessary spending.
He sees it as a way to preserve the PAC’s budget that works better than giving each team the same amount when not every team needs the money.
“We don’t believe in budgets. If we give the basketball team 3000 dollars to spend and they really don’t need anything they’re just gonna use that 3000 dollars. So we just talk about what they really need for their budgets,” said Rogers.
In addition to equipment, the PAC provides new uniforms on a three to five-year rotation. This system allows teams equal opportunity to have the items they need.
“We keep from having to buy every sport uniforms in one year. Next year it might be women’s basketball and golf, that’s their year. Then five years later, we’ll buy another set of uniforms for them,” said Rogers.
What Does PAC Not Provide?
Leesville provides its athletes with much of the needed equipment. However, there are still many items students are expected to buy for themselves.
The school does not provide gear like practice uniforms, soccer socks, and even football helmets. Instead, they are an expense the athlete pays for themself.
Paul Dinkenor is Leesville’s varsity soccer coach and Paideia social studies teacher. He has been coaching at Leesville since the school opened in 1993.
While PAC covers uniforms, balls, and goals, athletes buy other gear such as their own socks and practice warm ups athletes wear before games.
“We’ve been lucky enough that the student athletes have not had to buy their own,” Dink said.
However, some sports require athletes to buy their own gear. Track and field, for example, has a large number of students on their team so Leesville buys uniforms directly for the athlete. If an athlete does not want to purchase a new uniform, all that coaches require is a shirt that says “Leesville.”
This system allows students to pick their design of a uniform. The minimum requires a shirt that says “Leesville” and a pair of spandex/shorts. Fortunately, there are always extra uniforms available for students who might not be able to afford to buy the gear.
Similarly, the swim team buys their own uniforms for the season. Athletes buy their uniforms through a specific store, so they all have the same suit. Any other extra gear, the athletes pay for themselves.
What Does Wake County Cover?
While PAC does cover the majority of spending regarding Leesvilles athletics, some projects, like Leesville’s new track, Wake County does step in for.
Renovations to the track and main athletic fields are controlled by Wake County–not PAC. Specifically, Wake County resurfaces roughly four schools each year due to their rotation they set in place for tracks.
“Everything has to go on a rotation,” said Rogers. “They’ve done Broughton and Holly Springs. It has to do with being on a rotation, and then it has to do with the wear and tear on the track.”
Leesville has been resurfaced twice in the last fifteen years. Wake County did not plan to renovate it until sometime in the future. The track, however, deteriorated faster than anticipated and issues like crumbling concrete and dangerous potholes made the facility unsafe, and even unusable for athletes.
Since not being able to use the track, Leesville, which was previously asking for a new facility, began to call even more attention to the issue.
“We’ve been trying to beg them for a new track for two years now at least. I think we really amped it up this year because we couldn’t run any home meets last year, and we can’t run any this year,” said Rogers.
In addition to coaches and other team members, parents and students played a crucial role in bringing attention to Leesville’s need for a new track. They wrote to WCPSS board members and explained the significance of the school’s situation further helping Leesville’s cause.
“Some student athletes wrote in to board members and wrote in to people at Wake County which got us a lot of traction…when we told them we can’t have meets here they said ‘okay we can move you up the list and put you next starting in May,’” said Rogers.
Leesville’s new track will be entirely revamped by the 2022-23 school year. Coach Rogers will oversee the project as it happens late in the school year and over the summer.
“They’re taking out the entire track, they’re taking out the asphalt, they’re taking out all the fencing around the track. They’re putting brand new fencing in, a brand new track, putting new pits in, moving the shot put, moving the discus, moving the high jump areas, moving both pits complete and brand new track. When we get back in August, you won’t even recognize it,” said Rogers.
PAC benefits not just Leesville, but the surrounding middle and elementary schools by providing a sense of community whether it’s at football games or homecoming parades. Without the efforts PAC has dedicated to supplementing the minimal budget of Wake County, none of these things would be possible.