Buying championship rings a costly process for Westmoreland County’s state title teams
By: Bill Beckner Jr.
Thursday, February 1, 2018 | 7:33 PM
Jeannette is fundraising in a variety of ways to purchase championship rings for its football players, cheerleaders and others around the program.
It's a pricey undertaking that could cost up to $27,000.
An incoming donation from the Elliott Group will cover most of the cost.
But the Jayhawks are not alone. With the year Westmoreland County teams had, a number of other schools also are ring-chasing.
The Latrobe baseball team, Hempfield softball team and Norwin girls soccer team also won state titles and are recognizing the accomplishment with rings.
Some booster clubs simply run out of funds when teams make long playoff runs. Rings are a nice bonus, but aren't cheap to buy.
Jeannette's dilemma brought up the question: What are those programs doing to pay for their rings?
Latrobe baseball already has its rings and players wore them to a small ceremony during halftime of a recent basketball game. The rings came in a box that, when opened, shines a light on the band. The Wildcats' process also helps shine a light on what other schools do to purchase the diamond-encrusted mementos.
“It's a combination of the kids, school and boosters,” Latrobe baseball coach Matt Basciano.
Latrobe ordered 30 rings, at $170 each, from a company in New Jersey. Players worked the school's “Steelers Night” during training camp to help raise funds.
“There are ring businesses all over the country,” Basciano said. “It's amazing how many there are.”
Hempfield has yet to get its second batch of rings. The softball team won back-to-back state titles. Fundraising efforts must be maximized for another batch of bling.
Jeannette is having a night at the races, a spaghetti dinner and selling state-championship apparel to bring in money. Former star quarterback and alum Terrelle Pryor presented a check for $1,000 on behalf of his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to go toward the cause. Pryor said he planned to donate more personally, at a later time. They've also used online crowd-funding sites.
While it is football, the number of people at Jeannette who want rings is much higher than the other sports: 90 compared to 30 or less. The school does not help pay for rings.
Hempfield gets some help from the school, but also fundraises, with a bingo night as a key event.
“Going to the state finals two years in a row drained our account,” softball boosters member Alex Belgiovane said. “Right now we need to recoup.”
Teams that win WPIAL and PIAA titles often combine the championships into one ring, as far as engraving goes. That is what Jeannette and Hempfield plan to do.
Hempfield plans to get “27-0” on the rings to recognize its perfect season. In all, 28 rings will go to players and coaches. They cost around $150-160 for players and $170-180 for coaches — men's rings are more expensive.
Belgiovane said the school gave $100 last year and the boosters paid the balance.
Norwin is in the process of getting rings for its girls soccer ream.
“All of our WPIAL and PIAA championship teams have purchased rings over the past few years,” Norwin athletic director Brandon Rapp said. “Some are bought through fundraising, and some parents have just paid for them. Things differed from team to team.”
Rapp said rings are purchased through the athletic department but reimbursed by the boosters.