The women’s swim team’s annual trip to Deerfield Beach, Florida has been going on longer than any swimmer can now remember. This trip has been used as a tool to entice new swimmers to join their ranks. The trip has recently been “postponed” as team captains Jackie Bingham, a senior pre K-4 and special education major, and Taylor Andress, a senior pre-physical therapy and psychology minor, say.
The influence the trip has on the team, who practices twice a day over a span of five months, is invaluable. “On top of building muscle and getting their technique going,” Bingham says.
Andress adds, “It’s a mental thing too, getting to go and train in the sun and be warm and enjoy the sport.” Otherwise, they are condemned to practice on campus while their friends and family are home during the long winter.
The team has worked football games at Pennsylvania State University and has taught swimming lessons in the community to raise money for their trip. They were informed several weeks ago, however, that the trip was postponed.
“Everyone was shocked,” said Andress. “We don’t see the reason, we worked hard for it.” Although a part of the money they fundraise will go towards scholarships, they believe that there is still room in the budget to afford the trip.
Per the US Department of Education, a mere $37,329 is spent on the swim team, the second lowest of all LHU sports, compared to $65,127 spent on softball and $77,065 spent on baseball, who participate several invitationals along the east coast and have a spring trip to Wilson, North Carolina, respectively. Bingham maintains that, “We don’t want to put other teams underneath the bus, but it just sucks because we ask for zero money from the school”
The girls had a meeting with Mr. Rodney Jenkins, Vice President of University Relations.
“The perception that academics are being cut and if athletics aren’t getting cut too, it looks badly on athletics.” Andress says.
From her perspective, it seemed that even if the funds were raised, they couldn’t necessarily go towards the trip. She goes on to say that she wants to show administration that the swim team has indeed raised funds on their own without need for extra money.
“We’ve had discussions about other things that had to be cut in order for us to do this anyway,” said Andress. “The fact that Joel [the head coach] has been working so hard alongside us to get the budget to work is frustrating because it was just instantly denied.”
Dr. Thomas Gioglio, the Director of Athletics, was kind enough to provide some answers, though he could not comment on personnel or operational decisions such as the swim team’s annual trip.
“All funds collected on behalf of the University are institutional funds,” and therefore must “follow institutional guidelines for allocation.”
Those who decide how funding for sports is being spent are the, “Head Coach, Athletic Director, Vice President and President following Foundation, University and Student Auxiliary Services guidelines.”
These individuals, “make decisions based on conference and NCAA requirements in conjunction with institutional guiding principles.”
The girls strive to keep their resilience. “I think we just need to keep on pushing forward on it and keep a positive attitude. Even if we have to stay here for the winter there shouldn’t be any complaining, we are here to swim,” says Bingham. Andress adds, “this is a big issue and we’re trying to handle it as maturely as we can, making sure that we are being leaders, talking about it respectfully and hoping everyone on the team can do the same.”