The pandemic and shutdown over the summer due to the Coronavirus sent shockwaves throughout the economy. Businesses both big and small had to close their doors, lay-off and furlough staff members.
Small businesses especially struggled to gather up enough money just to pay rent each month, often relying on additional support like donations from customers. Much like small businesses, the Highland girls volleyball team got help in funding from family members of the players as well as fans and other members of the Highland community.
Families helped raise funds for the Highland girls volleyball as well as other Highland athletic programs and non-athletics programs with a coupon card. The card gives discounts to various business around Highland.
“We sell a discount card that a lot of different programs from Highland and around our area sell,” Highland head coach Jordan Neal said. “That has always worked well for us in the past, the community did a great job supporting us this year and we did not see a large drop-off in sales.”
The discount card can also act as a way to pay for the entry fee in order for girls to be eligible to play, which is a good way for families to save some money with discounts while still having their children compete.
“Our families have been so generous to us in the past. We use our card fundraiser as an option to cover player fees, then we have tax credit or straight donation,” Neal said. “Most of our families cover the majority if not all of their fees through the card sales, then they cover the rest through another method.”
Highland was also able to save some money due to cancellations of the pandemic. Certain events that would require an entry fee in normal seasons were canceled, which made the cost to run the volleyball program less so than the average year.
“One of the reasons we knew we could cut back a little was the absence of tournaments this season,” Neal said. “They were eliminated because of COVID concerns, having 16 programs from all different areas in the same area so we didn't have to pay entry fees to those.”
This saving of money that would usually go toward tournament fees, while most likely not one-to-one, help offset some of the losses the program had because of the pandemic.
Another way Highland offset some of the loss in income, was cutting back on some upgrades and celebrations. According to coach Neal, Highland was very economic with its gear. They saved money by spending less on uniforms as well as other equipment.
Regardless of funding, Highland kept their mentality of staying calm and collected.
“For us our secret is to focus on what we can control and on our side of the net,” assistant coach Jeff Grover said.
No matter how much Highland saved, Neal says the community is the best supporter, both monetarily and emotionally, during the pandemic and throughout some tough times.
“We are so thankful for the Highland community, this year has brought difficulty for everyone but even more at Highland. We lost some members of our student body, are just a year removed from the tragic loss of our athletic director’s son, and in all of those moments the families in our school have shown incredible generosity and love,” Neal said. “There really isn’t another place like it. This community loves and supports everything we do at Highland and is ready to step up in special ways when challenging times come.”
Quinton Freestone is a sports journalism major at Arizona State covering Highland High School.