Austin Athletic Scholarships Available in Leominster
By Peter Jasinski
LEOMINSTER -- Kelly Joseph isn’t sure of the exact number of student athletes her late friend and local youth football coach Mike Austin helped financially support throughout his lifetime, but she imagines many are still out there and needing help.
Before he died last year, Austin was well-known for providing the money needed by many local children to pay for athletics programs or the equipment they’d need to play.
“I would say he was doing that almost 40 years,” said Joseph. “He was doing this when he was still in high school, helping the other kids that couldn’t afford much. And to be honest, he couldn’t afford much either, but he was great at finding people to help and holding fundraisers.”
Now it’s Joseph’s turn.
Not long after her friend’s death, she started raising money for an athletic scholarship in Austin’s name. Having since met her fundraising goal, she is now looking for the athletes Austin would likely be already helping if he was still alive to do so.
“These aren’t going to be for the elite athletes. This is for the underprivileged kids who can’t afford the $100 to play hockey or to buy a new baseball glove,” said Joseph.
Applications are out for about a dozen scholarships specific to each child’s needs. Rather than award a set dollar amount, applicants are being asked to specify what they need the money for. If chosen, they will be awarded the specific amount they requested.
There is no cap on the amount of money being given to each athlete, though Joseph said the scholarships will likely range from $100 to $300.
Austin died at the age of 55 last May. A 1981 graduate of Leominster High School, he spent his adult life coaching in youth baseball, basketball, and football programs, as well as basketball and football through Leominster Public Schools.
Applications for scholarships can be found on michaelaustinmemorial.org and donations are still being accepted through the website.
Joseph said she expects money from the scholarships to be awarded in the spring, however future scholarships will be awarded on a continual basis throughout the year.
“Whenever there’s money in the account, I will make it available to the kids in need,” she said.
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