With school almost out and summer right around the corner, the Roanoke recreation center will soon open signups for this fall’s upcoming youth football league.
But this year parents of players will be paying a bit more to enroll their kids in the league, a change that was brought about at the request of the parents themselves.
Recreation director Jerri Gabriel asked the Roanoke City Council Monday night to increase signup fees by $35 per player in order for the league to allow players to keep their jerseys after the season.
Gabriel said she did an informal poll of the parents of one of last year’s teams and that their response was unanimous – they would gladly pay more if it meant being able to take their child’s jersey home.
Currently players are required to turn in their jerseys after the season so they can be reused the next year, although some parents voluntarily pay out the additional money to purchase the shirts anyway.
That scattershot of jersey replacement, though, means that some kids get used jerseys and some kids get new jerseys the following season. Instituting the price increase will allow every player to keep the jerseys that they wear and provide the funds needed for Gabriel to purchase an entirely new set of jerseys each season.
Council member Tammi Holley voiced her hesitation at the price increase – and ultimately voted against the change – saying it could price out lower income families, especially those with multiple children playing.
But Gabriel said that no child who has signed up has ever been denied the opportunity to play because of their inability to pay. Multiple families each year request – and receive – assistance to cover their costs in cases of financial hardship. According to Gabriel, local businesses or good-hearted individuals have always been willing to foot the bill for those unable to do so.
Mayor Jill Patterson-Hicks reiterated that the recreation department will not turn away any child or family or deny them a spot on a team if they are unable to pay the increased fee, which was approved by the council by a 5-1 vote.
Signups for next fall’s youth football season will likely begin sometime next month, according to Gabriel, and extend into July. The city is also looking at creating an option to sign up and pay online.