I coach chess at a local private school (K-8 if it matters). The position is strictly voluntary; I have not been paid a dime apart from some free snacks here and there that parents have brought to meets. I’m fine with this; it’s a very minimal time commitment, and I love chess and love kids, so it’s really no bother.
However, the state finals tournament is in two weeks, and this event is going to cost me some money. Hotel room, gas each way, and about six meals on the road, and it’s going to add up.
Would I be out of line is asking my athletic director for some pocket money for this event? Or should I just suck it up and pay for it myself?
You should challenge all the parents to a chess match, where you play them all simultaneously. If you win at least half the games, they pay twice the cost of your trip. Otherwise, you pay your own way.
Don’t phrase it as a question. There is no question they will be funding your trip (or at least there should not be). Simply ask the athletic director where to submit your receipts for reimbursement after the trip is over. If he doesn’t know, try to contact a secretary. Again, don’t make it look like you’re asking for money, because you’re not. You’re simply being reimbursed what they owe you.
There’s no downside to asking about the reimbursement procedure for your traveling expenses. The worst thing that could happen is they tell you they can’t and you’ve got to pick it up yourself. Which is the position you think you are already in.
As a volunteer, depending on school districts, the OP isn’t entitled to any reimbursement. He’s not a school employee.
I’m not saying he shouldn’t be reimbursed, and as a teacher I really appreciate you taking time to help those kids; but the fact remains it’s on a voluntary basis and the costs will come out of pocket.
Most of the time, they should reimburse you for expenses. If not, you should build your costs into the cost of the trip for the students. There is no reason you should be working in your capacity as a coach, AND picking up the tab.
I don’t think that there’s an objective “should” in a situation like this, but if I were you, I wouldn’t ask anyone for a dime (or intimate in any way that anyone should give me a dime). If the money were a problem for me, I simply wouldn’t go.
I think this is the worst option actually. As the coach of the team one of things you’re teaching is commitment. And by simply not going - especially if unclear whether there is even an issue - is the wrong message.
I think a conversation with the athletic director is the right thing to do and then go from there.
I think a key point is that the OP already agreed to go on the trip (which is how I read the post). If he was going to ask for reimbursement then ISTM the best time would be when he’s deciding to go or not. That might give whoever has to approve this some leverage, if anyone asks later they can say “Well if we didn’t cover expenses for HeyHomie then he probably wouldn’t have been able to take the kids.” At this point I think all you can really say is that it’s “appreciated” if they can cover some or all of the travel.