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High school boosters | Is it a level playing field?

10:35 AM, Jul 4, 2013   |    comments
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MENTOR -- Even with shrinking budgets, some schools are still winning the money game.  It's all thanks to parents and businesses, otherwise known as boosters.

It's the tale of two high schools. Mentor and Lorain are separated by 52 miles, but they're a lot further apart when it comes to money.

Tonight at 11, WKYC's John Anderson brings you the story.

Jeff Cassella is athletic director at Mentor High School and the definition of success is written on the gym walls. There's the list of titles and sponsors.

The Cardinals get a huge boost from their boosters. Today, football and finances go hand in hand.

Mentor Head Football Coach Steve Trivisonno said, "We've been as good as anyone else and we've been able to do it because of the booster groups that help us."

Through fundraising and check writing, Mentor is cashing in.  Boosters have paid for two gyms, improvements to the football stadium, and a new weight room.

Jeff Cassella says it would rival most college weight rooms. But it's not just at Mentor.

At Strongsville, home of the Mustangs, boosters have ponied up about $150,000 over the last two years to cover new uniforms, weights and other training equipment.

Avon Lake boosters have raised $350,000 for everything from stadium renovations to trophy cases.

That's not the case in Lorain.

Lorain Athletic Director Bryan Koury remembers 10 years ago, if his team needed anything, there was a parent or business right there to pay for it.

But times have changed.  And Bryan would love to add a new turf field. Koury said, "If anybody has a big enough check, as beautiful as this grass is, if they'll write it, we'll definitely take it."

But instead, Lorain has to get creative, and the WeedPro company is donating its time to spruce up the 85-year-old stadium.

They will have 40 employees donate their time to paint the stadium and take care of the field. But what about the present, and the future?  Have we gone from Friday night lights to Friday night "loot"?

How much does cash help with championships? Cassella says, "The better equipment, the better care you give your athletes, the better they'll perform for sure."

This year, Mentor won 10 district titles and three teams made it to the final four of the state tournament.  The boy's basketball team won the state championship.

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