Wish lists: District eyes options for grant, donations

By Adelle Whitefoot

ISHPEMING – At its meeting Monday, the Ishpeming Public Schools Board of Education heard ideas about what to do with leftover donations and a Sports Illustrated grant to its athletic program which total more than $50,000.

The athletic committee met with the varsity football team and coaches to hear their thoughts on how to use this money. Sports Illustrated announced in November that an episode of its online video series “Underdogs,” featuring Ishpeming football and basketball player Eric Dompierre, was the winner of a $25,000 online voting contest. The prize was a grant to the Ishpeming schools’ athletic department.

As the contest winner, the school also was awarded a trip to fly 10 members of the team to New York City for the SI Sportsman of the Year award show. In order to take the whole football team, the district asked for donations to get a bus and pay for the extra hotel rooms. The community responded so enthusiastically that, after the trip, there was $25,661 left over, Superintendent Stephen Piereson said.

“The donations from the community were incredible,” Piereson said. “The athletic committee decided they wanted to have input from the team and coaches.”

No decision has been made on how the money will be used, Piereson said. Some ideas the football team and coaches gave the committee include: a memorial sign at the field for the championship and in memory of former players Daniel Olson and Derek Briones, new equipment for the weight room, an ice machine for injured players, new video equipment, lightweight shoulder pads, sideline jackets and updates for the football field.

“The team was very, very happy so many people donated and I don’t think they’re being selfish with the money at all,” said board president and athletic committee member Geno Maino. “The people who donated said specifically that this money was for the team and I don’t think anything they are asking for is frivolous.”

When asked by the committee if the team had any ideas what to use the Sports Illustrated grant for, they said they wanted it to be used by the whole athletic department, Maino said.

“They wanted to share what they won with everyone because they felt winning the vote was a school effort,” Piereson said.

According to Maino, the committee sent out a letter to all of the coaches for sports from seventh through 12th grade asking them to make a team wish list.

“It said this is their one chance to get what they need for their team,” Maino said. “Once we get those wish lists back, the athletic committee will go from there in deciding what will be done with the money.”

The lists are due back to the committee by Friday.