Who's Behind Effort To Save High School Sports? | Community Spirit

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Who's Behind Effort To Save High School Sports?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Golfing is one of the high school sports in jeopardy, but not if Mike Lynch can help it.

"We can't let this happen, this is silly," said Lynch.

A dozen varsity and middle school programs are targeted to be cut in Duval County Public Schools to save an estimated $500,000. The school board started its budget cutting mission needing to slash $91 million from the budget.  

Now, several groups headed by sports advocates like Lynch are organizing to solicit money from private donors to keep the sports.

Lynch heads the NF-PGA Northern chapter. He and Boots Farley of the North Florida Junior Golf Foundation created a non-profit group to raise the money to save high school golf.

"We have had situations in the past and we came through; we will take care of this," said Farley.

Lynch said the bulk of the money raised will go for coaching supplements. Among his fund raising strategies is a raffle.

"We have 600 raffle tickets, we will sell those tickets to golf shops $100 a piece," he said.

They will pick three winners, said Lynch. Each winner will get the opportunity for a foursome at the most prestigious golf clubs in the Southeast, including Sawgrass and Marsh Landing. 

Boots Farley is confident he can make the Aug. 1 deadline. "Absolutely, 100 percent," said Farley.

Jacksonville Attorney Lindsey Brock is leading the charge to save the sport of wrestling. "We have commitments for over $10,000 and we're just getting started," said Brock.

Brock, a Terry Parker High School graduate, said he and others of the alumni association have made it their goal to raise $70,000.

"I don't know if it is going to be easy, but it is a goal that is attainable," he said.

Brock said the community will step up in these extraordinary times to keep these sports in Duval schools this fall. "I believe it will be a lot of little donors," he said.

Dee Dee Allen, who is part of the group trying to save the sport of tennis, said it's just getting organized and its goal is also $70,000. "We have an tennis exhibition at San Jose to get start," she said.

"Compared to the other sports we are a spring sport so we have some time," added Allen.

Mike Lynch said when he stepped up to help save the sport of golf, he was looking at the bigger picture: the impact on all of the schools, public and private.

"This is not a public school issue, it is a North Florida golf community issue. If you know anything about high school golf all the counties play each other," said Lynch.

Duval County School Board Chairman W.C. Gentry said the only sport that needs a champion is slow-pitch softball.

Gentry said he's optimistic they will meet their goals and save these sports, but because of the federal law Title IX, slow pitch softball has to be included.

Gentry said that each sport has created a 501(c) 3 to collect funds for the specific sport. But he said they have also created a general fund to cover any sport that comes up short.

The sports of lacrosse and cross country running are also in jeopardy but they now have champions to save them.

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