How to afford putting your child through sports

VERONA, Wis. — Many parents are shocked to learn about some of the prices for youth sports these days, but experts say don’t let those first numbers you see deter you.

Lane Manning’s son Miles is a goalie for one of Verona’s youth hockey teams.

“My favorite part of the day is the 10 minutes I get to tie his skates up,” Manning said.

His family was introduced to hockey about five years ago, and yes, the cost of playing the sport definitely crossed their mind.

“There was definitely the concern, the fear, if you will,” Manning added.

Manning said he quickly got past that fear.

“It was just a misconception, but when you get into it, they’re really not that bad,” he explained.

He learned just what it takes to make it work, both with his son sporting the skates and his daughter, a gymnast, on the mat.

“When it comes to equipment, I was fearful (of costs), but then you start talking to other friends,” he added. “Literally, I would just start raiding garages of guys who had older kids.”

With a growing boy, he never wanted to spend too much on gear, so getting equipment handed down, or for a reduced price from teammates, made a big difference.

“Now we’re at the point where my son grew fast, so we’re actually giving out some of our stuff,” Manning said.

He still believes it’s worth the cost.

“Overall, there is some money that you have to spend. But at the end of the day, I don’t consider it spending, I consider it an investment,” Manning added.

Eric Burton is the general manager for the Capital East Soccer Club. He’s also the commissioner for the Big 8 High School Conference. Burton said he understands how some folks may still struggle with both time and money.

“Everyone’s busy,” Burton said. “Everyone’s trying to do what’s best for their kids. It’s just part of the modern family unit. Parents want to do what’s right for their kids.”

Burton said the fees, the travel, the hotels, all of those things add up, and it’s really putting a pinch on some families. But there are some strategies he said you should consider to save your hard earned cash.

“Shop around just like you would do for a car, or a refrigerator or anything else,” he advised.

With his experience as both a dad and coach, he recommends looking for any scholarships or equipment giveaways.

“You may need to leave your local community to join a different club, but there are other options other than opening the checkbook and writing big checks,” Burton said.

That’s something Lane Manning stands behind, even if he finds himself going a million miles an hour to keep up to his growing kids.

“Just ask the questions,” Manning added. “It’s a great activity to keep your kids in. I’m a huge proponent of making sure your kids are active. Keep them out of trouble. Give them something to do, and something to look forward to and something to wake up for.”

National statistics for high school sports show big time drops in numbers for some programs, like hockey and football, but officials say some of that may be health scares, like the increase in concussion awareness.

We hope to keep this conversation going about prices in Madison. News 3 Now wants to know what kind of affordability questions you have, or what you’re experiencing. Let Josh Spreiter know by emailing him or reaching out to him on his Facebook page.