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Financial impact of COVID-19 concerns South Effingham AD
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Jeff Faith - photo by Photo by Birk Herrath

GUYTON — Jeff Faith has been an assistant principal at South Effingham High School for 10 years and an athletic director for five. 

During his tenure as an AD, he’s been very tactical in generating and spending money to support the school’s many sports teams. But in a time when the economy is just beginning to reopen after being restricted for two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he realizes that financial support from local businesses may not be up to par with previous years.

“Our coaches and I have discussed a little bit about our concerns about our small businesses in Effingham County,” Faith said. “They, in some ways, are the heartbeat of some of the resources we have with regards to how we are able to do certain things, such as buy an extra uniform or things that go on with our programs. We are concerned about them because we have friends that run small businesses.

“Those friends are losing their businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are concerned about our families that are losing their businesses because of it. We are a little bit concerned about how fundraising is going to go because, in some cases, our small businesses are part of our revenue resource that we are able to fund our programs as it’s combined with our gate money.”

Fortunately, some things have already been taken care of because Faith doesn’t wait around to ensure teams have what they need. Still, COVID-19 has forced a curb in spending.

“The unique thing about this is that, typically, for our fall sports, we would have done our orders in early winter,” Faith said. “Early winter, we were fine. There was no COVID-19 or shelter in place and there were no restrictions so we were spending money in the winter. In spring, we get hit with COVID-19 and that kind of put a halt on a lot of things.”

Softball, for example, is one sport that doesn’t require a large budget. Still, quite a few balls for a season are needed. 

“We save softballs,” Faith said. “There are some balls you can use for batting practice but when you get into playing games you really want to utilize new balls for those type of situations. Our programs spend money to get those balls. 

“There are some times that balls get lost and we are not able to retrieve those.”

Faith is passionately invested in all things South Effingham and will continue to strive to do what its best for its athletic teams while keeping an eye on the deadly virus that has swept the country. There are needs that have to be met but he remains hopeful that some of their wants can be taken care of, also.

The wants include a turf tank — a robot that will paint the field, freeing up much-needed time for coaches who work tirelessly to ensure that fields are ready to go come game time.

“We value our coaches and our coaches’ time — the time with their players and their families,” Faith said. “We’ve been looking into this because it is something we want to invest in so that we can free up our coaches to have more family time. It takes time to paint fields.”