CornerKICKS: While IHSSCA remains quiet, soccer players continue to plea for help

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Joe Trost, columnist for #PrepSportsReport

As the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) strike continues, the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association (IHSSCA) board and its sectional coordinators (coaches) elected to remain silent last week when asked if they supported CPS soccer teams being allowed to compete in the state series.

It’s gutless, but not shocking when most of the IHSSCA board and sectional coordinators are public school coaches controlled by unions.

What, you expected leaders in the game of life to stand up and do what’s right for student athletes in a moment of crisis? The same people who preach, “Your hard work will payoff.”

When asked for a statement, IHSSCA president Brian Papa stated: “Speaking as president, on behalf of the IHSSCA, it is unfortunate for any student athlete or coach, to be excluded from the state tournament for any reason. I do support the CTU teachers and coaches in their efforts.”

This past spring, the IHSSCA had no issue standing up for players when they wanted to bypass an IHSA bylaw to play in an all-star game. This moment of silence by the IHSSCA is just another example of adults refusing to do what’s right for kids, who are being used as political pawns.

A student athlete can go back to biology or band, but if you only play one sport and this is your senior year – you don’t get it back. You don’t get a chance to play on the big stage if you come from a low-income situation and rely on this event to be seen.

All you get is a, “Sorry kid.” I wonder how much that “sorry” is worth if you tried to use it to pay for college?

“We should be standing up for these CPS kids, because the IHSSCA is there to recognize and support kids from all the schools a part of its association,” said Saint Viator soccer coach Mike Taylor, who was a teacher and coach at Fenton previously. “You can support the union and support the kids playing in the state playoffs, too.

“There’s no reason why (CPS) players and teams shouldn’t be allowed in the state playoffs. On every staff, there is a nonunion coach. If there isn’t, the administrators can coach. Every CPS building has been open during the strike.”

Strikes are meant to cause disruptions. They shouldn’t, however, throw specific kids under a bus and run them over as adults stand around and watch.

Riddle me this: Why isn’t a teacher’s strike ever held in May when it would impact finals, graduation and really every student and family in a school? Think about it, and you tell me.

Short-term sacrifices for long-term success is how they like to spin it. But little do some realize the lifelong negative impact they’re having right now on kids from low-income families.

Teachers and coaches are going to be paid more in Chicago. That’s great, everyone is happy and I mean that. But do you notice everyone is gaining, and the only ones losing are the kids now. Who is going to pay for college for some of the soccer players from Gage Park or the Southeast Side of Chicago, who can’t afford to play for the big clubs or work to help their families in the offseason.

There are countless college coaches, who use this time of the year to see the city players. It’s a cold-hard fact. I can give you more than two decades of examples.

And before anyone says we/they/the union are fighting for the kids, sit down. There’s a difference and everyone knows it. There isn’t a person with common sense, who doesn’t want teachers and schools to have it all in a fiscally responsible way.

Remember folks, you can stand up for two things at once – teachers and kids. You don’t have to pick one or the other in moments like this. If it wasn’t for the kids, we wouldn’t need teachers or coaches.

When a child has earned the right with hard work in the classroom and on the field, every adult should want to be an advocate for them. And to those who continue to use or refuse to speak up for these student athletes, it makes me really start to look at your true character.

Crisis moments show the true leaders in the game of life.

FREE RECOGNITION FOR ALL EXCEPT SOCCER: Did you know the only way a boys or girls soccer player in Illinois can achieve All-America, All-Midwest, All-Sectional or honorable mention All-Sectional status is if their coach pays a fee to the IHSSCA?

When it comes to football, basketball, baseball or other high school sports in Illinois, coaches are not required to pay a fee for their players to earn recognition.

You can be the best soccer player in Illinois, but if you don’t pay a fee – you won’t get the recognition you deserve.

The IHSSCA is a private organization, which is registered under a current high school coach’s name with the Illinois Secretary of State. A coach doesn’t have to join, which many don’t, but then their players won’t receive the recognition awards.

So, we want to hear your thoughts. Do you think it’s right a fee is tied to recognition of a high school boys or girls soccer player?

We’ll have more on this next week.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The highest remaining seed in the Class 3A Lincoln-Way East Sectional is a No. 6 seed. Think about that – seeds No. 1-5 all fell in the regional.

Moments like this are what high school athletics are all about – winning and losing on the field.

Well, that is unless you’re a CPS team – you lost in a board room because adults couldn’t standup and do what’s right.

CornerKICKS appears on Sundays. Contact Joe Trost at joetrost@gmail.com.

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.

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