High Schoolers Use Crowdfunding to Pay for Sports Gear

Though most of Manual Arts High School's lacrosse equipment is donated, the rest comes out of players' and coaches' pockets and totals around $500 at least per player.

At schools where students must "pay to play" on their sports teams, some high schoolers are using online crowdfunding to raise money for their gear.

At Manual Arts High School in South LA, members of the lacrosse team say they love the game and the release it gives from school. But the equipment required is expensive.

"A typical lacrosse player is going to have shoulderpads, gloves, elbowpads and a helmet," said Manual Arts lacrosse coach Tim Hilton.

Hilton said the good, safe forms of this gear will total at least $500 per player.

But student players like senior Eric Rodriguez and junior Jose Flores love the game — and say it’s more than a pastime.

"It keep me on my studies a lot," Flores said. "I’d say if it wasn’t for sports I would be a different person."

Their coach concurs.

"I've watched them turn into some of the best men that come through this school because of the game they play," Hilton said.

But though most of their equipment is donated, what they must buy comes out of their own pockets.

"Every season it seems like it’s a question of where are my uniforms coming from, what kind of equipment do I have to replace," Hilton said. "It's tough. It eats into my paychecks."

Manual has turned to crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe. Other local schools and even individual athletes also use this method, instead of the traditional bake sales and carwashes.

So far they’ve met success, making $1,500 — enough for five helmets.

But assistant coach and former player Rogelio Junior Flores said with 20 spots on the team, it’s not enough.

"We are at low funding to no funding so even 50 cents could help us buy a kid a mouthpiece," he said. "Five dollars can get us athletic tape."

Flores said playing lacrosse at Manual Arts helped him, and he now coaches at a local college.

The coaches wish the best for the student players — including resulting scholarships. That’s why they believe crowdfunding is worth it.

"It really makes us feel good that someone is thinking about us," Hilton said.

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