D228 Stuck at Standstill with Lacrosse

For more than two years, Oak Forest Fury parents, coaches and players have tried to get Bremen School District 228 to sign an Emerging Sports Agreement, that would allow the team to play other high school teams. So far, the district has refused.

Players in many sports don the colors of Bremen High School District 228's four schools. But one sport hasn't made the district's roster: boys and girls lacrosse, a sport the Illinois High School Association named an 'emerging sport,' in 2009. 

Parents, coaches and players from the Oak Forest Fury, an Oak Forest Park District club team, have tried over the past two years to change the district's mind about fielding a team—pleading with the board of education to sign an Emerging Sports Agreement letter so that high school aged players of the in the district could play on a parent funded, co-op club team. But they're not budging.

“We want everyone to be clear that this program is parent-funded,” said Michelle Sopko, who spoke before the board at its Tuesday, Oct. 16 meeting. “It's not tax-based at all, we would never ask the tax payers to pay for something they're not willing to pay. It's all parent-funded, that's the misconception that's out there in the public.”

The Emerging Sports Agreement would allow the current high school-aged members of the team to play other high schools in lacrosse, something they say is nearly impossible to do now.

“It's very difficult to get games,” said Fury Coach Jason Hedke, at the Aug. 21 board of education meeting. “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.”

Despite the best efforts of the organization, the district has not signed the letter, citing monetary concerns over soft costs, long-term investment from the district and the possibility of the IHSA waiving the Emerging Sports Agreement letter at its October meeting.

“Last month, I reported that Dr. [Marty] Hickman, who is the IHSA Executive Director, took our proposal that would waive the Emerging Sports Agreement to the advisory committee,” said Superintendent Bill Kendall. “The advisory committee was going to forward that to the bylaws committee that meets this month. What he expected was a bylaw change that would not mandate this Emerging Sports Agreement, that would allow lacrosse teams in [the Fury's] status to play lacrosse teams of other districts."

While the district and Fury wait to hear from the IHSA, the group is still without games and left in the lurch as to what will come, if anything.

“We can't play anybody, nobody in our area will play us,” Sopko said. “And the people we played last year, they have now signed Emerging Sports Agreement, so they cannot play us.”

Keep up with Oak Forest Patch!

Brian Ahlgrim October 17, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Yes, they should not finance this....too many other important issues
Sue1 October 18, 2012 at 07:30 PM
The issue again, that this group seems to want to ignore is that the whole idea behind the emergent sports agreement is that it will become a sport team just like any other sport team. At that point, it can't be parent run. Good job! They claim they can't get games, yet you always read about this game or that one. Didn't they just hold a big tournament?
MK October 19, 2012 at 04:21 AM
It WILL be paid for by the parents.Just like the Sandberg team. Why can't you understand this? At least the school board understands this part.
MK October 19, 2012 at 04:32 AM
The parents already pay for the program. All we ask is that we have the ability to play other teams in our area. The program is thriving in grade school and dying in high school. Sue1, we are not trying to create a new OFHS sports team with coaches being paid by the school. We are a club team just wants to play other teams without traveling to Indiana like last year. Nothing is being ignored, everything is already in place.
Elliot October 19, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Once you start playing under the 228 umbrella you give control to the board. They answer to all four schools. This sounds like a great program but if your asking for 228s blessings you need a plan to incorporate all the schools in the district.
MK October 19, 2012 at 05:58 PM
The program is open to all 228 students. Kids from 3 of the 4 schools are already on the team. If the board still has concerns about signing the agreement, I am sure that the Fury group would love to answer any questions.
dp October 20, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Support the kids and let them play.
Elliot October 20, 2012 at 02:46 PM
That's what they say about the OF Boy's volleyball team but I'm told they only have OF kids are on it. Please correct me if this is not accurate. Are you proposing to make the Fury the 228 team?
MK October 20, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Elliot, sorry I don't know more about the OF volleyball teams situation but I do know that the school has their own volleyball teams. That is part of the misconception that seems to show up in the patch blogs. The lacrosse team is not a OFHS Bengals lacrosse team. it is a lacrosse club that is run, and funded completely seperate from the high school. The teams are set up in age groups so you will not have 5th grade kids playing against 8th grade kids which would not be fair or safe. Once you get to the high school age, IHSA rules come in to play. There are many high school and club teams in the area for us to play but their schools have signed the emerging sports agreement. Once signed, they cannot play opponents who do not have a signed agreement. If we get the agreement signed, we could start to schedule games against St. Rita, St. Lawrence, Orland Chiefs (club team like us). Mt. Carmel, Lockport, etc...


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