CornerKICKS: Athletic directors and coaches assume, drop ball on kids

CornerKICKS – Joe Trost, columnist

No matter how anyone tries to spin it, hide from it, ignore it and hope it goes away – adults and leaders let kids down.

Athletic directors and coaches – some who also serve as assistant athletic directors – failed big time.

Period.

As you read right here on April 14, the Naperville Invitational was doomed from the start after it tried to lend a helping hand to Loyola. The Ramblers were set to be on spring break during the opening weekend of the event, so its tournament game against Fremd was played on April 9.

And with that started the time clock on the tournament. Under IHSA rules, tournaments must finish within 10 consecutive school days. With Good Friday figured in, the Naperville Invite officially concluded on April 23.

Athletic directors and coaches turned a blind eye to the long-standing rule, meaning every school and coach that allowed their team to play on April 25 and 26 were technically in violation. After being contacted by the IHSA, the only way to “play” those scheduled games were to make them nonconference matchups.

By doing that, it meant St. Charles North, Barrington, New Trier and Benet couldn’t “advance” from their so-called semifinal games to a title game, because you can’t advance from what eventually became a general nonconference game.

That meant for the first time since 1998 – 21 years – there wasn’t a championship game and no true tournament champion. Naperville Invite officials also got their hands slapped by the IHSA for posting on social media that the championship match would be moved from Saturday to Sunday because of weather.

You can’t have a championship match for a tournament that was technically over on April 23. It’s another reminder to coaches, school leaders and parents – haste makes waste. We live in an era where people rush to post on social media. Everyone wants everything now – scores, pictures, videos.

Now, now, now.

Social media is a powerful tool, but it can also bite back harder than you think. And in this case it did, taking away any opportunity from two teams, 50 players – many of whom are seniors – and their families to have an “unofficial” title game played on that Sunday – something they earned and worked hard for.

As one coach pointed out this past weekend, we all realize the IHSA rule is outdated and needs to be refreshed during the 2019-2020 school year. I truly believe the IHSA and its member schools will do what is best for student athletes and the sport.

Until then, a rule is a rule – something athletic directors and coaches are supposed to know. Assuming is not what they’re paid to do for their players, program and community.

Because we all know what happens when you assUme.

ONCE PROUD PROGRAM ON LIFE SUPPORT: For the fifth consecutive year, the Oak Park girls soccer program will finish under .500. Since 2017, its recorded a mere seven wins and become an afterthought when it comes to soccer rankings.

SPEAKING OF SOCCER RANKINGS: Please check your common sense at the door when you refer to soccer rankings.

Some newspaper sites only cover a certain area – like the Daily Herald or Daily Southtown. Some internet sites require payment for coverage, meaning if you don’t pay – you also don’t play in their rankings.

For example, one week Whitney Young isn’t ranked. The next week they’re listed after they pay to play.

Maine South and Libertyville don’t pay to play, and those are just two examples of quality programs not ranked.

Always remember – don’t let the so-called truth get in the way of the facts.

DID YOU KNOW? High school soccer in Illinois requires schools or coaches to pay for a player to be named all-state or all-sectional.

That doesn’t happen in football, basketball and the list goes on.

But in soccer, if you don’t pay to play, a high school player cannot be all-state or all-sectional.

FOR THE RECORD: In last week’s column, it was noted about the ongoing conversation as to whether club tryouts are legal for high school players during the high school season.

According to IHSA assistant executive director Beth Sauser, IHSA by-Law 3.102 and Illustrations No. 188 and No. 189 address the non-school athletic team question.

As long as there is “no instruction,” players may attend a club tryout.

LEAVING HER MARK: Northwestern-bound Paige Miller became just the sixth player at Wheaton-Warrenville South since 1987 to reach the top five for all-time goals scored and total points.

TAKE A BOW: In what was supposed to be a down year for Plainfield South, it captured its first conference title last week and now has 21 wins on the season.

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

Bio on columnist: Joe Trost was an award-winning writer at Star Newspapers, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and ESPN.com. Locally, he is a three-time statewide IHSSCA Media Person of the Year and founder of the PepsiCo Showdown, the largest high school sports series in the U.S.