PHS boys soccer coach Chris Avakian has two goals for next season — increase participation in the sport and outfit teams in new uniforms that will build spirit and pride in the players.
Of course, those two objectives require money, of which the strapped-tight athletic budget has very little.
Knowing that, Avakian enlisted the support of the Payson Soccer Booster Club to host an upcoming fund-raiser to earn the much-needed money. What has resulted is a benefit spaghetti dinner to be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 13 in the Payson Elementary School cafeteria.
The food for the benefit is being prepared by Gerardo’s Firewood Café and will include pizza, baked ziti, meatballs, rolls and, of course, spaghetti.
Having Gerardo’s step up to help the program is nothing new on the soccer scene.
In past years, the café has often been a generous supporter of the program.
Tickets for the dinner, which are available at the door, are $7 per person or $25 for a family of five.
If the dinner is a success, Avakian plans on using a portion of the money to help pay athletic participation fees for those student-athletes whose parents cannot afford the fees that increased last season to $200 for a first sport and $50 for a second. Previously the fees were $60 per sport.
Avakian argues that the increased fees have adversely affected participation in soccer.
“Two years ago, we had 41 (student-athletes) try out for the team, and last year we had only 18,” he said.
“Some parents simply cannot afford those fees.”
Avakian also contends the increased fees as limited participation in other Payson High School sports.
His goal with money earned from the benefit dinner, he said, “Is to get kids playing who can’t afford it.”
If parents have more than one child participating in multiple sports, pay-to-play fees can reach as much as $400.
The school district, however, has capped that amount, as the most any family will be charged.