The Leprechauns Sports Association clubhouse in Port Richmond should be brimming with excitement about the program’s 60th anniversary.
Instead, sustainability for the future is the main focus, with COVID-19 having
“This year will be our 60th anniversary and if everything goes well and all
restrictions are lifted then we look forward to having our yearly homecoming events
and celebrating this anniversary and having an end-of-year banquet to not only
celebrate our 2021 teams but our champions of 2019 as well,” said Theresa
DePlante, vice president and treasurer for the organization. “Due to the pandemic,
we could not at the end of the season. However, this depends on fundraising and
the support of sponsors and the community.”
Fundraising is key to keeping the nonprofit afloat and registration fees low.
“The pandemic has impacted our organization in so many ways. With social distancing,
we cannot hold usual fundraisers that help us fund the next season’s budget. Equipment is getting safer but more expensive by the year,” DePlante said.
For example, a football helmet that was less than $80 two years ago is about $100 this
year, according to Frank Reinhardt, football director.
In addition to the financial strain the pandemic is placing on the Leprechauns, there’s
the most important part of all: the approximately 125 football and 60 basketball players
whose seasons were put on hold.
Both programs were halted in March, the inaugural season for a track program was
canceled, and the annual sports banquet was canceled.
The 2019 football champions are still waiting a proper celebration.
In addition to adhering to guidelines put forth by the city, the program was at the mercy
of the city Department of Parks and Recreation because it uses the city’s facilities for games, practices and events.
“Because of restrictions on the amount of participants allowed on recreation
department fields, we held conditioning camps with smaller groups of children and
followed all CDC guidelines,” Reinhardt said. “The kids performed football-related
exercises and workouts with our coaches.”
To keep kids engaged, some coaches even held Zoom meetings with players,
according to Reinhardt.
Moving forward, the Leprechauns will open registration in the coming days and hope to
resume sports in the spring.
Football camp will tentatively start on Sunday, March 28, flag football and 7v7 games
will run through May and June, followed by the normal football season.
“With so many people out of work or now working part time because of COVID they
cannot afford for their kids to play. If our signups go down, our fees will go up,”
DePlante said. “Unless we can get sponsors or some type of grants, it is going to be
very hard to run our programs.”
Despite the pandemic, the nonprofit is coming up with alternatives to raise funds.
The Leprechauns recently started an out-of-season fundraiser called the Lucky Lotto, in which people can purchase a ticket for a $5 donation and the winning number will be
based on the PA Lottery evening Pick 3 on March 17.
The nonprofit remains hopeful, yet realistic about what it faces in the future to
maintain the program.
“We have a long road ahead of us but are currently focusing on getting our football season started, along with trying to open our kitchen window up for the weekends and selling food to try and earn some money for repairs needed for the clubhouse,” DePlante said. “Our long-term goal is to be able to have the clubhouse open daily for the kids in the community to come and hang out and get help with school work and just have a safe place to go to when we are not having sports.”
While getting back on the gridiron is the goal, so is safety.
“Some of our staff will be required to take mandatory training that is offered through the Department of Recreation in order to use the fields and gym for this upcoming year. We are also working on the protocols and COVID guidelines that we will require all of our volunteers and participants as well as parents to follow while on the field this season.”
For more details on the Leprechauns, visit the Leprechauns Sports Association Facebook or website at http://tshq.bluesombrero.com/leprechaunssports.