Fundraisers prove to be a vital part of the operation of sports teams

Fundraisers prove to be a vital part of the operation of sports teams

Any member of a sports team can tell you that it is a lot of responsibility to your teammates and coaches. But at the high school, students have a whole other hurdle: fundraising.

Fundraising is a carefully orchestrated aspect of sports that athletes, coaches, and the administrators all participate in, highlighting the community and generosity of the people of Brookline, according to Athletic Director Pete Rittenburg.

“There are many people that are very happy to give in this community, and do so generously, frequently,” he said.

Fundraising is integral to the operation of the sports teams as it pays for extra gear and food for the teams. Fundraising raises up to $100,000 a year, according to Rittenburg.

According to the Friends of Brookline Rowing website, they raise the money to buy boats for the high school crew teams. Friends of Brookline Rowing is a parent group that pays for expenses not covered by the high school, according to their website.

Rittenburg also said there is a wide variety to the way teams fundraise, from team-specific things, like a golf tournament or the annual ergathon (a competition involving indoor rowing machines, held by the Friends of Brookline Rowing), to vendor-based sales, such as cookie dough or the Gold Cards, which offer discounts to local merchandisers, to smaller events like bake sales.

“They raise money in all kinds of ways, with no centralized booster group or friends group.” Rittenburg said. “We essentially have all of our teams operating independently, so the idea pool is pretty wide.”

One of the newer fundraising efforts taking place this year is from the ski and boys tennis teams, who held a mattress sale on Dec. 8 in the cafeteria.

The idea was introduced by ski coach Slava Heretz after Newton North raised $4,000 through it, according to senior Jacquelyn Pearlmutter, a captain of the ski team.

In order to get any of these ideas to the point where they can be used, they need to be cleared through Rittenburg and Headmaster Deborah Holman.

“In practice this is really more the larger fundraising initiatives, not so much the bake sales and smaller things,” Rittenburg said. “But the larger, newer fundraising ideas would come through me to be shared with the Headmaster.”

The Headmaster’s role is coordinating large fundraising groups, such as the athletics department, performing arts department, and Parent Teacher Organization, to make sure that they are not soliciting the same benefactors all the time.

According to Rittenburg, many of these fundraising efforts include an outside vendor. In such cases, the profits are divided between the vendor and the sports teams. For smaller events, such as bake sales, the profits are given entirely to the sports team.

Most of the ideas for fundraising have been developed within the team itself, or by a “Friends of…” organization, such as Friends of Brookline Rowing. The general ideas have not changed much over the years, but some teams have broken the mold with new ideas, such as selling mattresses.

In terms of the actual work of fundraising, it almost all comes down to the athletes, who take a very hands-on approach to things like car washes and door-to-door solicitations, according to Rittenburg.

For the ski team, this will be their first fundraiser, according to Pearlmutter.

“I’ve never heard of doing a mattress fundraiser,” she said. “But if it’s successful, I’ll hope to do it again.”

The ski team hopes to buy Patagonia gear with the proceeds from the fundraiser, Pearlmutter said.

The fundraising happens all year long, but reaches a peak in the fall or spring when the weather allows for outdoor fundraising.

Thanksgiving weekend is also a popular time, because many alumni return home during that time of year, said Rittenburg.

The process may be lengthy, but according to Pearlmutter, it’s worth it.

“I wish that the school paid more for ski gear,” she said. “But we get to keep these forever, and they’ll be our own.”

Irene Gilbert can be contacted at