By James Feichtner
At the beginning of the 2015 school year, Mt. Vernon High School announced that they would no longer be charging a fee for students to participate in sports. To this day, the decision has had quite the effect on sports turnout as a result. Total participation in fall sports has increased by 20 percent.
Of the sports, cross-country experienced the largest increase of 57 percent, going from 30 athletes in the 2014 season to 47 in the 2015 season.
“We are overwhelmingly pleased with the increase in the numbers of our cross country athletes,” cross-country coach Bruce Kendall said. “We have surpassed the number of athletes we had before pay-to-participate. It has been really pleasing to see so many seniors who came out who never had the chance to compete.”
As for other sports, football has seen an additional eight students, girls’ golf has seen two more players, boys’ tennis had five additional players, volleyball added five players and both boys’ and girls’ soccer had four and one additional players, respectively.
With such success in the fall, Mt. Vernon Athletic Director Brandon Ecker expects following seasons to experience similar increases.
“We expect athletic participation to have a similar increase in winter and spring which will generate more two and three-sport athletes this year,” Ecker said. “There is no coincidence that participation in every sport increased with the $225 fee being removed; it is safe to say it is a direct relation. We are pleased we can offer athletic opportunities to all students without finances being part of the commitment decision.”
Mt. Vernon is anticipating the approximate $190,000 lost revenue from removing the fees will be replaced through new sources of athletic income such as renting the schools’ facilities to sports organizations for tournaments and acquiring sponsorships.