Lansing Athletics Win Championship While Facing Cuts

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email

The Big Reds head coach became emotional infront of his team, remembering how he approached the Lansing School District superintendent when his job was in jeopardy.

"My job was in jeopardy at the time. I told him, 'if you keep me as a head coach I'll win you a championship. I have a vision and I know how to do it," said head coach Carleton Valentine.

After 6 years. he led the Big Reds to a state championship. He hopes city leaders and school officials realize the significance extra curricular programs can have on the students's success beyond high school---as several have earned college scholarships.

"I knew I wanted to go to the next level and play college basketball. So, I kept good grades," said basketball team captain Tyrin Wade.

"The lessons they learned on the court about discipline are lessons for a lifetime. So athletics, in my view, and extra curriculars aren't extra, they are vital," said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

But education officials say with a $25 million budget deficit, they have to look for room to cut in every area from transportation to athletic programs to fill the gap.

"We have a huge hole that we have to cover. So there is no sacred cow," said Lansing School Board Member Guillermo Z. Lopez.

Lansing school board members will consider a "Pay to Play" program, where athletes would pay to be on their high school team.

"An athlete would have to pay $100 or $200 for two sports like football and basketball for example. So there are different fees and different places. We have to see if it works for Lansing," said Lopez.

Sexton coaches and students hope their accomplishment now will remind educators of the importance of athletics when they're making budget decisions in the next few weeks.


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