On the night of August 24th, 2023, members of Plymouth North High School’s athletics Booster Club gathered at Lucky Dawg Tavern to dine over one of the most expensive placemats known to man – a jumbo-sized check for $72,884.
Though current and former members alike reveled in their victory, the money did not come as a surprise. In fact, Booster Club members have been anxiously waiting for this day to come, trying day-in and day-out to return what was unfairly ripped from our student athletes so many years ago.
Since Stacia Leavitt, the club’s former treasurer, took over $25,000 from their primary finance account in the spring of 2019, President Julie Hoch had been painstakingly working to pay off both the Booster Club’s, and our sports teams’ debts. It took over three years.
With $25k in initial losses, $40k in missing team funds, and thousands more in legal fees make the Plymouth North Booster Club entitled to the largest check our school has ever seen to make up for missing funds.
“Any fundraising we were able to do went directly to our debts, and the things we normally did as a club were put on hold,” said Hoch. However, despite such a major setback, the Boosters and our athletics department simply “had to keep going.”
While working to correct the costly tragedy in the courts, members of the club simultaneously identified even more missing funds from the teams’ individual books. In total, the club is estimated to have discovered an additional $40k in stolen capital since Leavitt was first exposed.
The 2023-2024 school year marks the first athletic season since the theft in which sports teams have had their funds completely restored. Chris Whidden, North’s head football coach, is particularly pleased with the newly available funds, as the success of the Booster Club is “essential” to the success of our students.
“The purpose of the funds raised by the Booster Club is to supplement the athletics budget in order to make the experience of each student athlete the best one possible,” Mr. Whidden said, referencing the privileges that North kids are able to take advantage of thanks to the club’s contributions. From team dinners to brand-new sweatshirts for every athlete, the Booster Club is responsible for creating and maintaining strong bonds within the athletic community.
It isn’t all about the perks, though, as when the club stops, North stops, too. “Each team has their own funds that are raised by the individual team fundraisers,” said Whidden, clearly skeptical of his team’s ability to raise a significant amount of money. “We are all incredibly thankful for their commitment.”
It’s often said that nobody really appreciates something until they lose it, and while that may be true of most things in life, the Booster Club is not one of them. Students may not have noticed the severity of the club’s situation, however they are sure to take notice of its recovery.
“The PNABC has reallocated lost funds to most teams,” said Director of Athletics Justin Domingos, clarifying that while not all of the teams’ funds could be completely restored (in part due to the significant lapse of time), the Booster Club is now in a position to “give back to North’s athletic program” to the fullest extent of their ability.
Domingos said, “I – along with our coaching staff at North – are very fortunate to work with such a great group. I cannot thank them enough.”
This story is courtesy of the Plymouth Eagle, Plymouth North High School’s student newspaper. To read the complete first issue of the school year, click here.
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