Thursday, August 16, 2012
Updated: August 17, 12:08 PM ET
LaMarr Woodley handles athletic fees
ESPN.com news services
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley heard that his high school alma mater needed to charge participation fees for its athletes due to budget cuts.
So he decided to pick up the bill -- for the entire school district.
Woodley has donated $60,000 to cover the participation fees for every Saginaw (Mich.) Public Schools student-athlete, an act that was met with a thunderous ovation when announced to coaches on Tuesday night.
"The whole place erupted," Saginaw High athletic director Dan Szatkowski told MLive.com. "It was electric. It was a gold-medal cheer."
Woodley, a 2009 Pro Bowler, starred at Saginaw High before playing for Michigan. He was a second-round pick of the Steelers in 2007.
Woodley's donation covers the participation costs of middle school, junior high and high school athletes in Saginaw, each of whom were affected when the district's athletic department budget was cut.
"For kids to lose out on an opportunity to maybe earn a scholarship or learn about playing team ball ... to miss out on that because your family can't afford $75 was going to be tough," Woodley told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I wasn't going to sit back and allow that to happen."
Participation fees for athletes in high school, for example, were $75 per school year.
Szatkowski told MLive.com that numbers were down in fall practices due to fees.
"People can make the argument that it wasn't going to hurt participation, but it was," Szatkowski told the website. "Because of this, kids will have an opportunity to participate, an opportunity to be part of a team. People don't understand how important that is.
"Fall sports practice has been going on for over a week. I've seen the numbers. They're low. This is one block removed for kids to participate. Hopefully, with this taken care of, we'll see more kids playing."
This isn't the first time Woodley has taken care of his alma mater.
In January, the linebacker donated 100 hooded sweatshirts to the high school's "Mighty Marchin' Trojan Band" before it performed at halftime of the Sugar Bowl between Michigan and Virginia Tech. The Wolverines won in overtime, 23-20.