Former athletics director Scott Maltman is the brainchild behind the No Pioneer Left Behind program

by: FILE PHOTO - Head basketball coach Jason Maki talks to his team during a timeout last winter. The new school year is right around the corner, which means high school sports are about to kick back into high gear. Sandy High athletes began turning in paperwork to the athletic office on Monday in advance of the impending year.

This year, the athletic department at Sandy anticipates more students coming out for sports than ever before. That is a direct result of the “No Pioneer Left Behind” program.

The program was implemented last year as a way to give as many students as possible the opportunity to participate, regardless of their financial situations.

“We started it last year as we began a couple new fundraising efforts to generate funds for students needing financial assistance for activity and athlete fees,” former Sandy athletic director Scott Maltman said. “We have always had a small amount of scholarship money provided by the local Kiwanis club, but we knew we had students not participating strictly due to finances.”

In its first year, No Pioneer Left Behind aided a host of athletes in their desire to be a part of high school athletics.

“We had many students that participated last year who would not have been able to, based on the increased amount of scholarship money we had available due to the additional fundraising efforts,” Maltman said.

No Pioneer Left Behind can cover up to two-thirds of athletic fees and costs for those who cannot afford it on their own. In extreme cases, the athletic director can approve 100 percent coverage of athletic fees for some athletes.

As the high school raises more money for student-athletes, there is a trickle-down effect. A portion of the Kiwanis-donated money can go to the middle schools to help students at that level. That also gets the word out to those students and their families that there is funding available as they move up.

After a successful first year, more student-athletes are likely to utilize the program during the 2013-14 year. Everyone involved in Sandy athletics stands to benefit from the increased activity. From a competitive standpoint, the Pioneers can put a better product out on the courts and fields as a greater number of talented athletes participate. For students wanting to play, money no longer stands in their way.

“The goal of taking finances out of the equation for being a reason why a kid doesn't participate in an activity or sport is on the way to being met,” Maltman said.

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