For two years, parents, players and coaches of the Oak Forest Fury have been lobbying for Bremen School District 228 to approve a co-op lacrosse team. For two years, according to coaches, the District has remained silent.
And much to the chagrin of Fury leadership, board members didn't break that silence during a meeting Aug. 21.
“I approached the school board two years ago to start this program,” said Charley Sopko. “We had some talking back and forth and nothing really happened. I approached them a year ago, and have been snubbed ever since.”
Sopko said that the board asked for information about the potential program, including cost estimates, and he has yet to hear back on his report. He added that the board said there was a soft cost to the program, but the organization disputes that.
Coach Jason Hedke said that all the organization needs is a signed Emerging Sports Agreement, which would allow the Fury lacrosse team to play other area high school teams. With the letter, the team would up the number of games it plays during the season to nearly 20, up from only five or six currently.
“It's very difficult to get games,” said Hedke. “Because now, basically all the teams that have the emerging sport [designation] make their schedules, and then if they have weekends after that, we have to grub for those games.”
District Superintendent Bill Kendall said that the board would like to sign off on the letter, but that the IHSA is currently debating eliminating the letter that would allow the team to play area schools.
“[The IHSA] is considering waiving that emerging sports document, that was supposed to be done at the August meeting, but they didn't have a quorum,” Kendall said. “So it's going to be voted on at the IHSA level in September. So as soon as we get a ruling on that, the emerging sports document may go away.”
Should the emerging sports document stay, Kendall said he was unwilling to say if the board would sign off on the document. He added that the potential costs of the program were also a roadblock in getting the program up and running.
“There's costs and there's risks,” Kendall said. “Eventually, they're going to go on to college. Now, do we absorb the costs and hire somebody, or do we just say there's no lacrosse anymore? … It may not be a cost in the short term, but in the long term there's certainly a cost.”
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