This fall, the Keene State College Athletic Department is learning to do more with less, just as many other departments across campus are doing the same.
Recent budget cuts have eliminated things like paid ball runners for soccer games and reduced the travel budgets for the teams.
These budget cuts are the result of the department trying to maintain “the student athlete experience,” as Director of Athletics Kristene Kelly puts it, while at the same time having to face the realities of budgetary constraints.
Kelly said the recent changes are examples of the department trying to use the resources available as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Julia Pearson, a senior on the women’s soccer team, said the team is getting accustomed to the changes. Pearson also said sometimes during games, the effect of ball runners who are unsure of their responsibilities can be felt.
She says it is especially noticeable if they are down a goal or have limited time left in the game. Pearson said these little things aren’t usually a major issue, but at certain times, everyone from coaches to the audience can notice play slowing down due to the inexperienced ball runners.
Head Coach of the men’s soccer team Rick Scott said this is often just a misunderstanding of the responsibilities of a ball runner. He said that most ball runners are players from spring teams just trying to help.
Scott said, “They just assumed they would stand in down in the corner.”
He also said he thinks this is a temporary issue, as the runners will soon learn what is expected of them.
Players this fall have also noticed some changes in the way they travel to games.
This year, KSC has begun using vans for short trips and non-conference games, rather than charter buses.
Kelly said this shift is saving the department money significantly. She said, “Two vans, gas, all of that, it may cost us $250. Where if you take a charter bus, it’s over $1,000. So that’s four trips that you could have possibly taken if you had taken a van.”
Kelly said that in a perfect world, she would have all our athletes riding charter buses to all their events, but with the current budget, it is a matter of choosing between the lesser of two evils.
She also said she would rather have to use vans for a few games then cut those games entirely.
Pearson said the women’s team is learning to embrace the vans.
She said that although it “definitely cramps up your legs a little,” she understands the need to cut back on expenses.
Coach Scott said that every team has been cutting back on travel expenses, and it’s worth it to save the department a lot of money overall.
He also said that he is lucky because of the substantial soccer alumni program.
Scott said because of the funds raised through the alumni, his program has been less affected than many others by recent budget cuts.
Scott said despite all the success, KSC athletics is “not a monster department,” and that the players are all a closely-knit group that are eager to help each other out.
This can be seen in the Owls for Owls program that encourages players to attend other teams’ games and is now extended to such things as ball running. Overall, Kelly said the department is doing the best it can with the money available.
She says the point of these changes is to “keep the ship moving,” and that the department is still just as committed as ever to maintaining an excellent student-athlete experience.
Simon Burch can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org