Braggs School District seeks donations ahead of fall sports season
A small school district is asking for your help to purchase much-needed sports equipment and upgrade facilities for their students ahead of the fall sports season.
The Braggs Public Schools superintendent said fall baseball hasn’t had a proper season in about a decade, but the district now has a new coach who wants to restore the school’s rich baseball history.
“This type of school in a small school program, you have small and spring baseball, which means you have 2 seasons and they have built a traditional victory over the years. In the 80s, they won many state championships. In the 90s they were going to the state tournament, and they’ve been competitive over the years. It’s kind of become a lull here lately and we’re trying to bring them back to what that rich history has been,” said baseball coach Brad Davis.
“Schools that don’t have football need to be able to generate some kind of excitement at the start of the fall semester and that’s an option that a lot of smaller schools do is they offer fall baseball instead of football and it generates excitement among the kids and gives them something to do in the fall semester,” said Superintendent and Principal Chad Harp.
Now the Wildcats are a diamond in the rough.
“We played 2 games last year,” said junior Rake Beasley. “I’m really excited about [this season] because we have someone who cares.”
Brad Davis became Braggs’ new baseball coach with 11 players on his fall roster.
“Let’s try. You know let’s do what we can to improve because we’re kinda starting at the 8th ball where we haven’t had the elements or the timings and the experience so far so now we’re trying to get excitement, effort, attitudes and let’s learn and grow, and practice and work. That’s what I expect,” Coach Davis said.
“Go out and try. Try,” Beasley said. “You just like to connect with your teammates. Connect with other teammates. I just think it’s fun.”
The district’s Go-Fund-Me for its athletic department will help offset the number of fundraisers students, parents and staff have to plan for this year.
“If we don’t raise that amount of money, it won’t be the end of the world. I put it into fundraising. Our kids are responsible, good kids raised by good parents. And you know, we’re going to raise the money and the kids are going to do some of that work and the parents with us,” Harp said.
The principals would eventually like to build a facility for the women’s softball team.
“For years we’ve played women’s softball and men’s baseball on the same field and they’ve coexisted peacefully. And we know, we’ve known for a long time that we need to add a separate facility that’s more conducive to softball and meets their dimensions, ‘ said Harp. “They don’t need a pitching mound, you know, on a softball field and it needs to be a separate facility and that’s on our long-term plan to try to fix that. We won’t be able to do it through this fundraiser, but we have a lot of gear that we had to buy. Catcher’s gear alone is over $200. Easily.
Meanwhile, the baseball program is essentially starting from scratch.
“When you replace everything, I mean from your basics, your equipment, your needs on the pitch, try to update your pitch, try to get uniforms, try to get all your basic needs, your net, it’s getting pretty expensive so we’re just trying to get everything we need for these kids to be successful,” Davis said. “Our new era of all the protective gear we need, all the different standards that we have to respect with our chest protectors, our helmets, our catcher’s equipment, everything, it has to conform to a certain code. You have to update it constantly and it’s in you know that our climate is a pretty good chunk of change like everything else. You know, just kind of inflation.
Davis comes from a long baseball coaching career and is thrilled with the new gig. He said it’s an opportunity to help a community in need and play more baseball with two seasons.
“Always inspired. You know, that’s why you get into this business. You’re inspired to help, to create, to change lives. So the inspiration is always there otherwise you wouldn’t be in this business, but you are also a little nervous. You step into the unknown. You know, you don’t have exactly what you need,” Davis said. “[…] You wonder how the children will be. Numbers and everything you need. So there is also a bit of nervousness. So it’s inspiration with a nervous side, I guess.”
Braggs’ basketball team and volleyball team, which have only been around for three seasons, also need new equipment and uniforms.
“We graduated a lot of seniors last year. They’re very invested in the program, and we have new players this year, so it’s just getting started and then rebuilding,” said Scott Belcher, women’s volleyball coach. . “I’ve taught in districts that were better off financially. And yes, I mean kids are kids. It doesn’t matter where the kids are from or what their background is. We’re a small school, but our kids still deserve to have those beautiful things,” said women’s volleyball coach Scott Belcher.
Coach Scott Belcher said the floors in the new gymnasium needed replacing due to water damage.
“We could do tournaments. We could do other things and have a facility where people want to come and play against us,” Belcher said.
“We are as good as any other great school and people should care about us as much as they care about them. And we just need all the help we can get because we don’t have a lot of help,” Beasley said.
The superintendent said that since funding is determined by student numbers, every dollar of state and federal funding counts.
He fears that the state funding situation will change.
“Most of the funding we get comes from state and federal sources and we don’t have a lot of taxes here. We don’t have a lot of businesses. This is a very burning issue at this time of year. You know we have big elections coming up…August 23rd and November, and many of us in rural education are very concerned about this. that could happen to our very small schools if vouchers are voted on in the years to come,” Harp said.
Chad Harp said they’re not even the smallest district.
“We have a little over 50 in our high school. There’s probably, I’d say close to 30 schools in the state that are smaller than us. You know, the smallest in the state is Freedom and I think that they have an enrollment of about 14 in their high school. It’s just different. It’s very difficult to be successful in many sparsely populated areas of the state,” Harp said.