Madisyn Byerley’s older sister, Katelyn, was one of the girls that worked to get Oregon High School a girls soccer team in recent years.
Now, Madisyn, a senior on the team, doesn’t want to be a part of losing the program.
After not having a season last spring due to COVID-19, the program lost out on fundraising opportunities and is in jeopardy of not having a season this coming year. The team is self-funded and the school board has only agreed to pay for the coach’s salary this year.
“It’s been very stressful,” Byerley said. We’ve been trying so hard to come up with fundraisers. With other school sports getting fundraising, telling us to do it ourselves. It puts extra weight on our shoulders.”
The team has been going around to local businesses and asking for donations and offering sponsorships. It has also done other fundraisers like a penalty kick challenge over the summer.
About $2,000 has been raised since fundraising started.
“I believe we can do it,” senior Dylan Burke said. “A lot of people really don’t support the girls teams. It’s a big thing for us to see that money.”
The team reached the sectional round in its third year of existence in 2019, which was the last time it played.
The coach’s salary the board agreed to cover is about half of the cost that the team needs. Officials, supplies, transportation and more are expenses that still need to be covered before the season starts in May.
“Golf also started out as self-funded,” Oregon High School Activities Director Mike Lawton said, “Bowling, too. There’s not many small schools like us that offer girls soccer. It’s also unique that we do self-funding. Usually other districts say, ‘No, we don’t want any part of it.’”
Head Coach Seger Larson said it has made him happy to see the girls putting in time to raise funds.
“It means they’re in it to play soccer,” Larson said. “It’s been the senior girls. It was not my doing. It was all on them. It shows the girls are dedicated. It shows they want to be successful as a program.”
Even if money is raised for the upcoming season, future seasons could still be in jeopardy due to limited funding. Seniors like Byerley and Burke are raising money even though they won’t be around to play.
Teams are evaluated for funding by the school board on a year-to-year basis. Lawton said especially with times being tough due to COVID-19, it’s tough to add teams.
“We were regional champions three years in and they won’t pick us up,” Byerley said. “We were ready for another season and figured they’d pick us up. There was a high chance we’d win regionals again. We thought maybe they’d pick us up then.”
Burke said the silver lining of the fight to raise money was that it gave the team something to bond over without a season last year.
“We learned how to be better leaders and push towards better goals and work together,” Burke said. “Last season, we couldn’t be together. It’s amazing how it can work out.”