As we set about designing a form for the co-op we began by meeting with the athletic directors to get their thoughts on many different aspects: readiness, support, and funding just to name a few. We have been working on different options, but one key message has been shared by the districts and the athletic directors about starting a lacrosse co-op: If we are relying on district funding from the public schools, it will be a long time before lacrosse is something they can consider. Potentially, a very long time.
Undeterred, we began looking at a community funded model. By ‘community funded’ we mean that the players’ families and other interested members of the community would contribute funds to offset the direct expenses of the co-op program keeping the program ‘cost neutral’ for the host school.
This can be accomplished either through monetary donations and grants or by direct equipment donations, or a combination of both. As this was the only path forward for us, we worked up a proposal to establish a new charitable, not-for-profit corporation that was solely focused on supporting the high school co-op team. Following the lead of other “booster clubs” or parent action groups in the area, this became the “Friends of Bloomington-Normal Lacrosse”.
It is important to note that there are ‘start-up costs’ and ‘season costs’. Start up costs are things like purchasing uniforms, helmets for the boys (the district insists that they own and control the helmets for compliance and certification reasons), uniforms, goals and nets, and other equipment necessary to field a lacrosse team. Season expenses are those expenses that would be incurred each season: busing and field space, referee fees, coach’s stipends, team gear expenses, balls and other consumables, and so on.
To determine the start-up costs, we used our experience with the Warrior club program and looked at other co-op proposals from the communities that have gone before us. We reviewed them with the ADs to make sure we’ve properly accounted for the equipment necessary to equip and field a team. All in, we are looking at $27,000 in start up costs. With that said, we expect to receive direct equipment and material donations from our partners that will lower those overall costs, but the balance will need to be raised by the end of the fall semester to ensure we can take the field in Spring of 2019. We can do it, we just need to rally the community to do so.
The season expenses were developed in a similar way, planning for a 10-12 game schedule (with a mix of home and away games). Both boy and girl season expenses are expected to be $22,000 each season.
We cannot hide that is a significant amount of money to raise. Our first target is the start up expenses in 2018, with those funds raised (through financial or equipment contributions) we can begin working on recurring season expenses after the new year.
In a perfect scenario, having fully-funded athletic department budgets in a school system that is running at a budget surplus would have led us to a much different approach. However, this is not the case in our community. To give our athletes this opportunity to play IHSA lacrosse now, we need to rally community support to help us raise money in support of this program.
Long term, our vision is that FOBNL support will end when a school leaves the co-op to create their own single-school team. We anticipate it will be several years before an individual school will be able to fund and field an individual team. With that said, as long as there is a B-N Lacrosse co-op, FOBNL will be rallying community support to keep our high-school athletes on the field and in an IHSA sanctioned program.
We are collecting pledges of financial support, more information can be found on the "pledge page" or you can click on the button from the home page.