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Sun, April 18

Basketball trip<br>rejected by board

What appeared to be a routine approval item on the Grand Canyon School Board agenda turned into a lengthy discussion and a no-vote during the June 18 meeting.

Grand Canyon High School boys basketball coach and athletic director Dan Lopez requested approval for the club team to attend a team camp from June 27-30 in San Diego. Twelve players had signed up and the camp’s entry fee of $485 had been paid. Parent permission slips, physical forms and consent forms had all been completed.

So why did the school board reject the club team’s trip?

"I think we need more than 10 days notice and an outline in advance," school board member Jon Streit said. "I need to see things itemized and how much it will cost."

The boys basketball team formed a club last year, although it was not school-sanctioned, to participate in a summer basketball league in Flagstaff. Last month, the club, now coed, was approved by the school board and the former club deposited all of its money into that account.

Lopez told the board that 86 schools from southern California and another 20 from Arizona were headed to the tournament.

"This is pretty much a reward to the student athletes who put in all the off-season time in the weight room and leagues," Lopez said.

Lopez said the club was $486 short of covering all expenses for the trip, but added there would be no problem obtaining the rest. In addition to the camp fee, the club planned to use nearly $2,000 in the account for food and transportation.

"We had leftover money from last year when we did fund-raisers and then we also did concessions at the middle-school basketball tournament and a couple of volleyball games," Lopez said. "We’ve sold tamales, we’ve sold snacks after school and all that money has been put into the basketball fund."

Streit questioned Lopez over the club’s fund-raising activities when it was a non-sanctioned club.

"When I came here, I wanted to do a variety of different things," Lopez said. "Well, there was no money. I went to businesses, we did fund-raisers. But the club was not sanctioned by the school, it had nothing to do with the school. It was a separate account to raise money to play in the Flagstaff league. When we became a sanctioned club, we put the money in the club’s fund."

Discussion continued for several minutes over issues with concessions. Streit used strong words to get his point across about non-sanctioned clubs using school facilities to raise money.

Lopez said the school board will be receiving an extensive concessions stand policy from him.

"It will be controversial," Lopez said. "Schools districts where I’ve worked, every club has an opportunity to bid on an athletic event to run the concessions and use that money they’ve raised for their club. But here, the only concessions run on a consistent basis is basketball by the Booster Club."

The issue over concessions was cut short by school board president Chuck Wahler, who said it was getting away from the purpose of the agenda item.

Discussion then evolved into the issue over equal opportunity for both boys and girls basketball players. Andrew Aldaz, girls basketball coach, said he had been trying to get something going in the past month since the coed club was officially organized.

"For us, we only had four or five girls interested in coming to practice on a regular basis or to open gym," Aldaz said. "The interest for the girls is not there as much as the boys."

School board member Tom Pittenger asked if the boys could participate in a basketball camp closer to home.

Lopez said one of the points of the San Diego trip was to reward the players for their hard work and create continued enthusiasm for the program.

"Kids nowadays need carrots and need tangible things to work for in terms of their participation because we’re pulling them so many different ways," Lopez said. "These kids worked very hard to raise this money. We went over different camps ... and San Diego was one of them. There are closer camps, but my belief is if we’re raising the money and the kids are doing the work to raise the funds, then this is a fun trip for them."

When equal opportunity was brought up again by Streit, Lopez said coaches of each sport are responsible for what they want to do.

"If Matt Yost wants to get kids playing volleyball twice a week and going to leagues (that’s up to him)," Lopez said. "This is an issue with me and the coaches because every place where I’ve been the AD, every coach is fighting to go to camps and get in leagues ... the head coaches are responsible for how much they want to involve their kids."

Although there were several underlying issues with the board, timing seemed to be a big one.

"It’s less than two weeks before the planned activity and that leaves us in a bad situation," Pittenger said. "As you can see, the board has some concerns about these types of activities."

"That is my fault, I knew we were going to this camp in January," Lopez replied. "So I could have had it requested or have been at the last couple of meetings for discussion."

The cost to the district for the trip was nothing, although the request included the use of the Phantom bus to transport the players.

Wahler made a motion to approve the trip. But the motion died for a lack of second.

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