Let the Titans have their rings, seriously | Full-Court Press

Ground-breaking hard work pays off, and it usually gets rewarded.

Academic institutions of all levels and employers across the world have preached it since the dawn of time.

The Todd Beamer Titans boys soccer team’s hard work did just that on June 2. They brought the school, which opened in 2003, its first-ever state championship in any sport.

It was ground-breaking and challenging work — not just for the high school, but also for those 18 players who put the game before individual success. They should have something personal to forever remember what they did as brothers for 21 games.

That kind of work should be rewarded.

Sure, they have a state championship trophy that will be a part of Todd Beamer forever. But what about seniors Austin Stafford, Dmytro Demchuck, Dylan Alley, Mark Filimonov and Luke Gregg?

After June 22, it’s possible those five Titans may never walk the halls of the school again with a chance to relive the sweat, tears and work it took to earn that trophy. Those seniors and the 13 other players deserve championship rings.

And they, nor any other program in the state, should have to completely foot the bill for them.

Recently, Titans coach Joel Lindberg created a gofundme.com account. In it, he states neither schools nor school districts are allowed to completely or partially fund such a request.

“The purchase of state championship rings for students would be considered personal use,” Federal Way Public Schools spokeswoman Kassie Swenson confirmed in an email. “State law prohibits the gifting of district funds for the purchase of personal use items.”

So, per state law, a school district can’t outright purchase championship rings for a school sports team.

That’s fine, it’s a law — not going to argue with that. And, with a price tag of over $3,000, championship rings would cost a lot of money.

So, how are school districts helping their athletes obtain mementos like championships rings?

In other words, if school districts can’t purchase state championship rings outright, they should be doing more to help their athletes, who represent them in a sports setting, find ways to raise money so teams are not doing all of the work themselves, especially when their biggest contributors to fundraising efforts tend to be district staff and employees.

Wouldn’t a chance to provide the program aid in the form of “how to” be an ideal … teaching opportunity for the athletes? Specifically those seniors who are on the cusp of entering the real world.

Again, the statement saying districts can’t legally provide tangible items is fine. Championship rings are for “personal use.” Therefore, it’s not the state, school or district’s job to provide such a “gift.”

So don’t provide them with the prize, but, please, at the very least, provide them with tools, ideas, strategies and anything else districts can so that players aren’t pandering for something they’ve rightfully earned, but are, instead, proactively executing a plan to obtain what they want.

These 18 players did exactly what their job as athletes at this point in their lives has trained them to do: They worked hard for something. In this case, the Titans worked harder than any other 4A soccer program in the state and took home the state championship.

Now, though, Beamer is stuck spending the summer, or longer, in its 22nd match of the season. It’s opponent? Money. And the athletes get to do all of this while trying to keep the memory of their accomplishment alive.

The educators, both scholastically and in the work force, have been right all along. Hard work does pay off.

Apparently just not if it is for “personal gain.”

Jerod Young is the Federal Way Miror sports reporter. He can be reached at jyoung@fedwaymirror.com.

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