BASEBALL, SOFTBALL RETURNING TO RBMS

dan-campbellDan Campbell, a member of the Red Bank Middle School Athletics Foundation, says spring sports will go on, but financial support is needed. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Despite statewide funding cuts that translated to the scrapping of all athletics last year at Red Bank Middle School, sports will, as promised, return to Red Bank.

The Red Bank Middle School Athletics Foundation, which started in November with a small group of parents, announced last week that spring baseball and softball are back on the roster.

And with a little in-kind support from the school district, the group is bringing the spring season back without a dime of taxpayer money, member Dan Campbell said.

“I don’t think I can find words to really express the work this foundation has done to support the sports,” Superintendent Laura Morana said. “I have a lot of admiration and appreciation for the work that they’re doing.”

It hasn’t been an easy task, and will continue to be a challenge, Campbell said.

In fact, the $8,500 needed to support baseball and softball this season isn’t fully raised yet. The non-profit hopes to come up with the rest of the money through two fundraisers at the end of the month.

“We have put the task before us,” Campbell said. “Now we have to raise the money.”

The first event will be a pancake brunch this Sunday at the middle school cafeteria for a small fee. The next is a carnival at the middle school from 5 to 9p April 1.

Running such events isĀ  largely how the group intends to keep sports going at the middle school. While it seeks out donations and sponsorships from corporations and local businesses, various fundraisers throughout the year are going to be the foundation’s main source for money, Campbell said. The goal is to hold fundraisers throughout the year to support other sports, such as soccer, basketball and track.

“I would say by the time the carnival expires, we’ll have our next fundraiser ready,” he said.

Last school year, when the district suffered cuts in state aid and had to heavily scrutinize its spending, all sports were cut from the budget. They weren’t brought back in this year’s budget, either, in order to stay within the two-percent property tax cap. It’s unclear when, if at all, sports might return as a district line item, Morana said.

The foundation has already lined up the spring season for baseball and softball, which starts March 31. The school won’t be part of a league but will still play teams from other schools just as it did in previous seasons.

The board of education is helping through a grant to pay for coaches for both boys and girls teams, Morana said. The district will also apply for grants for support, she said.

“We are supporting the work of the foundation in every possible way,” she said, but added, “their drive and their initiative really allows them to do a great deal.”

Plenty more help is needed, though. Money aside, the foundation could use volunteers to help coordinate and participate in its upcoming fundraisers.

“Volunteers are going to be a huge asset,” Campbell said.

If you want to get involved, learn more or join the organization (for $25), more info can be found on its website, or by emailing. More info on the two upcoming fundraisers can be obtained by contacting foundation member Alex Federico via email here.