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PLYMOUTH - On Aug. 2 a Plymouth sports tradition will continue at Pretty Lake Golf Club but with a twist.

The Art Thomas/Big Red Open has been one of those events over the years that brought all generations of Plymouth athletes back together for a day of golf and socializing. This year the event will add an important element - raising money for the Plymouth Athletic Department. It's something that has become vital for high schools to continue to offer sports for their students.

"We really want people to understand that the athletic department is really its own entity that is expected to pay it's own bills," said Plymouth AD Michael Delp. "The tax dollars we do get pay coaches salaries, and for building and grounds."

"Our uniforms, our officials, our transportation, our equipment for example high jump pits, or a gymnastics mat are on us," said Delp. "With declining ticket sales and rising costs it has put a pinch on us the last few years. Some schools are going to transportation fees where they charge kids in order to get their buses covered."

"We pay a good portion of our athletic trainers salary," he said. "In the end it's really a small business you're running. It's around a $400,000 a year budget that you're managing."

"I've tried to make it clear to everybody that the last thing we want to do is go to a 'pay to play' model," said Delp. "There are so many benefits in that student athlete approach. Our athletes learn so much on and off the field from their coaches and from the experience of competing. Things like time management, work ethic, team work, we know how valuable that is to building strong civic minded community members. We want every single kid to have access to that experience if they want it."

The outing on August 2 will have two golf options. At 9 a.m. there will be a "Mini Red" - a nine hole co-ed scramble for $160 a team or $40 person.

At 1 p.m. the Art Thomas Big Red Open Scramble will tee off at a cost of $300 per team or $75 per person.

Both options include lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Hole sponsorships are also still available for businesses and individuals who want to help the athletic department in that way. There are various perks that go with each level of sponsorship.

To sign up for the outing or for more information you can call Delp at 574-936-3215 email mdelp@plymouth.k12.in.us or contact Chris Tilbury the Pro at Pretty Lake Golf club at 574-935-3705 or email tilburypga@gmail.com.

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