Mahar parents group advocating for sports

  • Mahar Regional School goalie Logan Dodge, left, charges out to block an offensive break from Pioneer’s Richie Kane during boys’ soccer action at the Woodward Complex in Orange last fall. The Parents for Mahar Students Group is raising money to support the school’s athletic department. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/31/2020 5:15:58 PM

A local 501(c)(3) organization formed more than a decade ago has taken up the cause of generating money to save as much of the Mahar Regional School athletics program as possible.

Parents for Mahar Students Group members are researching avenues that can help some of their high school teams survive the budget cuts brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as a disappointing amount of financial support from the state. While varsity high school sports have been spared, junior varsity and middle school athletics have been temporarily eliminated. The Mahar School Committee voted last week to support the varsity sports program for this fall, as long as everyone involved understands the risks.

The group has started fundraising. Jessica Gadarowski, Shannon Johnson and Sherry Anderson created an account on GoFundMe, an online crowdfunding platform, that can be found at In addition, the group will sell lawn signs for $25 and “Mahar Athletics: Refuse to Lose” T-shirts for $20. Group president Tricia Belloli said the sports program will pocket $15 per sign and $10 per shirt. The group has also submitted a proposal to the school committee to help reduce bus fees, and also suggested a pay-to-play system equipped to help raise money for students who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

“It keeps them out of trouble and it keeps them off drugs,” she said, adding that “we’re looking at horrible consequences for them down the road” if sports are canceled.

Belloli said sports help some students perform well in school because they know they must keep up their grades in order to participate.

The only sports that have been approved for game play in Franklin County this fall are varsity field hockey, cross country and boys’ golf. Mahar Athletic Director Jim Woodward said some students are unhappy their sport is canceled, and some may decide to switch sports.

“We’ll do the best we can and get as many kids out to play as we can,” he said, acknowledging that the situation is unfortunate.

Woodward explained the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Board of Directors approved a recommendation from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the typical three-season sports calendar has been broken up into four seasons – fall 1, winter, fall 2 and spring. Fall 1 will last from Sept. 18 to Nov. 20 and winter sports will go from Nov. 30 to Feb. 21. Fall 2, a so-called floating season that will hopefully encompass the rest of the fall sports that were deemed unplayable (i.e. football, soccer, volleyball, cheer), is set to begin Feb. 22 and end April 25 and spring sports will take place from April 26 to July 3.

School districts that the state Department of Public Health designates as “red” based on its metric of average daily cases per 100,000 residents and that have their high school students learning remotely at the start of a season, must postpone their entire season, including practices, until that floating season, according to the MIAA.

Belloli said she understand the difficulty of the situation, but said many students – including her daughter, Mahar junior Natalie Belloli – are itching to get back to playing sports with their friends.

“We really just want to be the voice for the kids, because they’re the ones being impacted by this and they’re not even old enough to vote. They have no say,” she said.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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