Gun raffle: St. George high school halts girls' rugby team fundraiser
A gun raffle this weekend benefiting the Snow Canyon Lady Warriors rugby team in St. George could cost the coach her job.
To raise money to compete in a national tournament in Wisconsin, the Lady Warriors staged a bake sale and gun raffle Saturday in a parking lot off the city thoroughfare, Sunset Drive. Tickets to win a 12-gauge shotgun cost $100; for $200, you could enter to win a rifle, the caliber of your choosing. The prices were later reduced.
"I was baffled," said Dorothy Engelman, who was on her way to a meeting Saturday morning when she spotted teens holding large poster-board signs advertising the contest and the gun manufacturer Savage Arms.
She stopped for a closer look and saw two card tables beneath a canopy. On one table were the guns adjacent to a roll of raffle tickets. The other was covered with cookies and cupcakes.
"This is a highly inappropriate way for a team to raise money, no matter how desperately it's needed," said Engelman, who immediately notified the school. "Having our young people hawk raffle tickets for guns seems very insensitive at the least, given recent mass shootings and the high rate of youth suicides in Utah. Is this what we want to teach our children?"
School officials had nothing to do with the parent-organized fundraiser, but shut it down as soon as they learned of it, said Snow Canyon Principal Warren Brooks. "This is a community rugby team that uses our name. We're just sick about it."
The team's coach, Cathy Hasfurther, also was unaware of the event, but may lose her job, he said. The team has a charter allowing it to use the school's name.
"The rugby team has had a great season and has done such great things for our community," Brooks said. "We love the rugby team. We love the program. But we can't condone this. We don't want foolish things to mar their good name."
He couldn't say early Monday how much money was raised. Nor would he disclose the name of the local gun dealer that donated the weapons.
Hasfurther refused to comment.
According to the team's website, the Snow Canyon Girls Rugby Club includes high school age girls from Snow Canyon High and Snow Canyon Middle School. It competes in Utah's rugby organization, governed by USA Rugby.
The club is funded by participants and donations, and the coaches and administrators are unpaid, the website said.
It is the second school-connected gun raffle this month in Utah; the first raised thousands of dollars.
The Uintah Ute Hockey Team this month raised $30,000 raffling off an assault rifle similar to the semi-automatic weapon reportedly used in the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut.
It was sponsored by Vernal sporting goods store Basin Sports and publicized with an image of the AR-15 .223-caliber gun.
Tickets for the April 4 drawing cost $10.
School officials agreed it was in poor taste, but did nothing to stop it, stressing it, too, was for a club sports team and not a school-sanctioned event. Organizers saw no connection between the auction and the school shooting.
Regardless, Engelman said, "It's abhorrent for a club associated with a school and using the school's name to do this. I also question the adults' thought processes. What kind of message does this send about Utah?"
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