pilgrims logoPLYMOUTH – On Aug. 2 a Plymouth sports tradition will continue at Pretty Lake Golf Club but with a twist.

The Art Thomas/Big Red Open has been one of those events over the years that brought all generations of Plymouth athletes back together for a day of golf and socializing. This year the event will add an important element – raising money for the Plymouth Athletic Department. It’s something that has become vital for high schools to continue to offer sports for their students.
“We really want people to understand that the athletic department is really its own entity that is expected to pay it’s own bills,” said Plymouth AD Michael Delp. “The tax dollars we do get pay coaches salaries, and for building and grounds.”
“Our uniforms, our officials, our transportation, our equipment for example high jump pits, or a gymnastics mat are on us,” said Delp. “With declining ticket sales and rising costs it has put a pinch on us the last few years. Some schools are going to transportation fees where they charge kids in order to get their buses covered.”
“We pay a good portion of our athletic trainers salary,” he said. “In the end it’s really a small business you’re running. It’s around a $400,000 a year budget that you’re managing.”
Parents who have purchased simple things like shoes or a baseball bat for their student athlete know the cost of equipment has soared over the years. Bigger pieces of essential equiment can really take a bite out of a budget.
“We are likely going to need to replace our gymnastics mat and that will be $40-50,000 that comes out of our budget,” said Delp. “We needed a new high jump pit last year that cost around $17,000. (PHS wrestling) Coach (Bob) Read does a great job taking care of his wrestling mats but the newest one that he had last year was purchased in 1987. The other two were over 40 years old – one was purchased before he started coaching and the other was purchased the year he started coaching. They had gotten to the place that nobody would re-condition them anymore, so we had a couple wrestling mats to buy.”
“We’ve done a good job of buying quality equipment and taking care of it but sometimes things wear out and they need to be replaced.”
Many schools simply can’t keep pace with the rising price tag and some have been forced to make athletes individually carry the cost of their participation.
“Some places are going to ‘pay to play’ type models and we want to avoid that any way we can, like working a little harder in the summertime to find that money,” said Delp.
Plymouth’s athletic department went about searching for ways to help take care of the cost of athletics and Delp hopes combining a pair of annual summer events will help do just that.
“We knew we were going to have to come up with another revenue source and we decided to take the Big Red Open and the boys basketball golf outing and put them together and put the whole weight of the athletic department behind it and we hope that will be a shot in the arm for us financially,” he said.
“We have a very giving community, great alumni and lots of people who want to be part of that solution. Our coaching staff works hard to help out. I’m very thankful for all our coaches,” said Delp. “I think every team we have has done some sort of fundraiser – a pizza night, an auction, a sale of some sort – they have all contributed something but with those dollars (raised by the specific program) we try to do our best to let them offset costs for their own programs.”
“I’ve tried to make it clear to everybody that the last thing we want to do is go to a ‘pay to play’ model,” said Delp. “There are so many benefits in that student athlete approach. Our athletes learn so much on and off the field from their coaches and from the experience of competing. Things like time management, work ethic, team work, we know how valuable that is to building strong civic minded community members. We want every single kid to have access to that experience if they want it.”
Delp also likes the aspect of bringing former players together for a social time.
“We want to continue to do a better job of connecting with our alumni, communicating with them, letting them know what’s happening now,” he said. “That connection of current with the past is important.”
The outing on August 2 will have two golf options. At 9 a.m. there will be a “Mini Red” – a nine hole co-ed scramble for $160 a team or $40 person.
At 1 p.m. the Art Thomas Big Red Open Scramble will tee off at a cost of $300 per team or $75 per person.
Both options include lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hole sponsorships are also still available for businesses and individuals who want to help the athletic department in that way. There are various perks that go with each level of sponsorship.
To sign up for the outing or for more information you can call Delp at 574-936-3215 email mdelp@plymouth.k12.in.us or contact Chris Tilbury the Pro at Pretty Lake Golf club at 574-935-3705 or email tilburypga@gmail.com.