Mid-Prairie penny drive funding new football coaches

Posted 8/12/99

Mid-Prairie is building its football program on a foundation of loose change.

The entire school…

By Scott Kruger

Mid-Prairie is building its football program on a foundation of loose …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Mid-Prairie penny drive funding new football coaches


Mid-Prairie is building its football program on a foundation of loose change.

The entire school…

By Scott Kruger

Mid-Prairie is building its football program on a foundation of loose change.

The entire school has conducted a penny drive to raise the funds to add four assistant coaching positions to Head Coach Mark Dalton’s staff. The goal is to raise one million pennies, or $10,000.

The additional coaches are necessary to provide the necessary attention, instruction, and guidance to the student-athletes, Dalton told The Kalona News. Football is a sport of specialties, where linemen, receivers, backs, and defensive players all require a specific type of coaching expertise. Adding four coaches to his staff would put Mid-Prairie on par with other high school football programs.

However, just because the need exists does not automatically there is funding to meet that need. Dalton said that high school athletics has had its budget tightened and, just like other extracurricular and academic programs, there are only so many funds allocated to the program.

“Obviously, with the money situation in the district, you can’t very well go and say you want to hire more coaches when they are trying to cut back on expenses—you’re going to get shot down from the get go,” Dalton said. “We needed to look at alternatives, thinking of ways to get more coaches to improve the quality of the football program.”

The alternative was to look to philanthropic means to fund the additional coaches and to make up for the budget shortage.

“It is nothing against the district or anything like that, this is just what I think we needed to do to be successful. Nobody has come up to me and said ‘Okay, hire as many coaches as you want and we’ll pay for it,’ so you need to be creative and think of your own ways of paying for it,” Dalton said.

The penny drive began last year with the entire school involved in gathering donations of loose change. Incentives and rewards were provided to students who gathered the most pennies over a given time period. While the effort is short of its one million pennies goal, the penny drive is planned to continue through this year.

This season, two new coaches have joined the football program—Pete Cavanaugh and Jason Dumont. Dumont is a former University of Iowa football player. Last year, Cavanaugh taught at Mid-Prairie but coached at rival Iowa City Regina. The new funding has allowed Cavanaugh to coach the same players he has in the classroom.

“I knew the [budget] situation going in,” Cavanaugh said. “I taught here last year, but I coached at Iowa City Regina. I wanted to coach here, but they weren’t going to add any new coaches because of the budget crunch.”

Dalton said the goal was to add four new coaches and one volunteer to the high school program, bringing the total to eight—four for the freshman/sophomore team and four for the varsity. The school is in the process of recruiting the two additional coaches.

The penny drive isn’t the only alternative for funding the expanded football program. Other funding will come through fees for the August football camp and from a player auction to be held this fall, where donors can bid for four hours of work from a player.

“Hopefully, we will get to the point where we can give these coaches a fair amount for their work,” Dalton said. “But nobody is going to get rich coaching.”

Penny drives, player auctions, and other fund raisers for extracurricular school activities are becoming the norm more and more in a era of school budget cutbacks and an unwillingness to commit additional public monies to adequately fund all school programs. For these school programs to continue, participants are going to continue to need to look for outside help. However, Dalton said such measures are worth it when it means the continuation of programs worthwhile to the students. He also thanks the Mid-Prairie administration for allowing him the means to help build the football program.

“I have learned over the years that if you want to do something and it is meaningful enough for you to do it, you do what it takes to make your program,” Dalton stated. “The administration here said ‘That’s fine, you do whatever you think is necessary to be successful.’ The first time I was a head coach, I didn’t take that philosophy quite to the point where I am taking it now. Here, I have been given the opportunity to do what we need to do.”


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here