Joe Trost, columnist for #PrepSportsReport
Let me guess: You’re probably tired of reading about Chicago and its strike, and not other high school sports news?
To be honest, I am, too.
But guess what? I’m not tired of fighting for kids – 1,000s of them. So, hang with me here. And always remember, have a note or tip – email me. You can find those details at the end of every CornerKICKS.
For the past week, I’ve felt like a real-life figure from the movie “300,” rallying with 1,000s of kids and adults to – as the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) says – “Do What’s Right!”
Each day, the kids and the adults rally a few more – especially those in education throughout Illinois – to help kids from all over the city of Chicago.
Day after day, I’ve continued to ask: Someone, anyone, please help.
Before I go further, because lord knows we’re going to have some person who lacks common sense and thinks I’m picking sides in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) vs. Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) issue – I’m not.
We can always improve our schools – throughout the state actually – in a fiscally responsible way. We need to do that, because we can’t fix decades in one contract. We have a budget at home and in real life. With that said, we need leaders to step up and help kids when a crisis impacts them.
Here’s the key: CTU, CPS and IHSA can reach that fine line like common-sense educated leaders and not ruin high school careers, because immature adults are fighting and pointing fingers in the board room.
Did you read that IHSA (Craig Anderson); CTU (Jesse Sharkey); and CPS (Janice Jackson)? (To her credit, Jackson personally reached out to a soccer mother today.)
I know strikes cause this pain to get people to move, but in two months when normal life returns in Chicago, these boys soccer teams and players that started to be impacted tonight will be the dead innocent ones on the ground that very few will even remember. Up next on the all-you-can-destroy-buffet: girls volleyball, football, etc.
It’s like a non-real war going on right now in Chicago, which is literally blowing up careers of seniors and killing kids’ and families’ lifelong memories.
Short-term sacrifices for long-term gains have massive lifelong impact for some that is being disregarded. You can go back to biology, math, band or other activities. But if you are a fall sports senior, you don’t get this back – EVER.
The ongoing example is boys soccer teams and players in Chicago.
Despite being crapped on by CTU, CPS and the IHSA, CPS teams, players and families showed up tonight at IHSA regional semifinal competitions, which started today throughout Illinois.
In Class 2A for example, Washington was at Brooks High School for its match against Evergreen Park. The latter didn’t show up, and the official on the field blew the whistle at 5:32 p.m. after Washington waited. Juarez was at Argo for its 6 p.m. match.
More CPS teams plan to show up to play on Wednesday and for the regional finals later in the week.
Other powerful story lines from this ongoing saga in Chicago:
A CPS coach will coach his soccer team in the regional finals later this week, while his son’s CPS soccer team has been forced to forfeit: Dave Underwood coached at the collegiate level and led Wheaton Academy to an IHSA state championship in 2004.
He decided to move to the city three years ago, and now he’s an athletic director and soccer coach at Muchin Prep, a CPS charter school. His team was awarded a regional forfeit over Little Village on Tuesday, a CPS school.
CPS charter teams are allowed to play in the state series, while regular CPS teams are not.
Underwood’s son, Jake, plays for Jones College Prep. Jake’s team had to forfeit its game against Downers North tonight.
What’s even more interesting about Underwood is that he decided to move to the city after watching Hancock’s girls soccer team – a CPS school – show up at Wheaton Academy with old uniforms and no warm-up balls in the regional opener. That’s when he realized it was time to make a difference.
A CPS school was to host an IHSA regional game with two CPS schools playing: Solorio, which won an IHSA Class 2A state title in 2017 and was a favorite this year, was asked by the IHSA to host a regional. On Wednesday, they were supposed to host DeLaSalle, Bulls Prep and Soto.
The Bulls Prep/Soto game, which features two CPS charter schools, has been moved to Soto. Solorio will be in attendance to play DeLaSalle at Soto, too, according to Solorio coach Adrian Calleros.
Proud moment: One thing I will say, I’m beyond proud of the CPS coaches standing up for their players – the same players they asked for dedication and hard work all summer and season.
Despite the strike, they’ve supported their players and stood by them this past week and today. It takes a strong leader to “Do What’s Right!” when people take sides. You never turn your back on a child, even when adults bicker.
And finally, think about this: The IHSA restricts kids from playing any organized soccer on Sundays during the season, despite the fact it’s a free day of their own with no scheduled game or practice.
Now during a school strike, they can’t play or practice…and they can’t take part in the state series with every other school in the state.
CornerKICKS (normally) appears on Sundays. Contact Joe Trost at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bio on columnist: Joe Trost is an award-winning writer: STAR Newspapers, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and ESPN.com. Locally, he is a three-time statewide IHSSCA Media Person of the Year; founder of the PepsiCo Showdown, the largest high school sports series in the U.S.; and board member for Buddy’s HELPERS, which engages and educates student athletes about Making A Difference On AND Off The Field.