On Thursday night, the Lincoln-Way high school board voted to close Lincoln-Way North starting for the 2016-2017 school year.
The once-rapidly growing school district, that serves southwest suburban Frankfort, New Lenox, Mokena, Tinley Park and Manhattan needed to put together a deficit spending program by September after ending up on the Illinois State Board of Education Financial Watch List. The area's housing market, crippled by the recession, low state funding and lower-than-projected enrollment numbers led to its financial crisis.
So what does this mean for Lincoln-Way North from an overall sports standpoint starting this fall?
[COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Lincoln-Way North]
The fall sports teams will continue to practice and prepare for the upcoming seasons -- business as usual if that's at all possible. Coaches will continue to coach, but you can't help but wonder what is in the back of their minds, as they will be saddled with looking for a new job next fall. Budget cuts and school closings means less teachers, less coaches and less administrators.
The impact on the student-athletes? Expect the kids to, if anything, be a bit more motivated to win in what now becomes the last season ever. The current students at Lincoln-Way North will be merged in Lincoln-Way East next fall. And when four highly successful athletic programs merge into three, the opportunity to play a sport, especially at the varsity level, is condensed. And that goes for some of the exceptional athletes. This will undoubtedly be on the minds of every student and parent from here on out.
My biggest concern? Will the closing of Lincoln-Way North be a one-off deal or could this be the first economic warning shot for schools districts statewide?
I hope I'm completely wrong here, but this story of school closings due to economic reasons, declining enrollments, state funding issues and more could be far from over. Stay tuned.
New Trier junior three-star ranked athlete Duke Olges (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) gave Northwestern his verbal commitment last Sunday yet waited until Friday morning to make his decision public via his Twitter page.
Olges, who was recruited by the Wildcats as a defensive tackle, felt pressure to make a decision since the Wildcats already had one defensive tackle verbal commitment in Clear Springs Texas Jason Gold while another defensive tackle with an offer was making an on campus visit later that day.
“I didn’t know if it was the right decision, to be honest. It was impulse more than anything,” Olges told WildcatsReport.com's publisher Louis Vaccher. “But what comforted me is after having a couple days to think about it, I felt a sigh of relief. It would have hurt me too much to let that scholarship go. As much as I wanted to go and visit other schools, losing that scholarship would have hurt more than anything else.”
Olges is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Wildcats Class of 2019 and the second in state pledge along with Bolingbrook junior DB Cameron Mitchell.
Olges, who was holding 26 scholarship offers this spring, was planning to make summer visits to Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Virginia and Duke before giving the Wildcats his verbal commitment.
NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.
School: St. Edward
Head coach: Mike Rolando
Assistant coaches: Steve McShane, Scot Brockner, Eloy Diaz, Mike Childers, Mike Holte, Tim Wood, Zack McQueen and Andrew Yarwood
How they fared in 2017: 5-4 (2-3 Metro Suburban Blue Conference). St. Edward failed to make the 2017 IHSA state playoff field.
2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 24 vs Tinley Park
Aug. 31 @ Wheaton Academy
Sept. 7 @ Hope Academy
Sept. 14 vs Elmwood Park
Sept. 21 @ Guerin Prep
Sept. 28 @ Chicago Christian
Oct. 5 vs IC Catholic Prep
Oct. 12 vs Fenton
Oct. 19 vs Ridgewood
[MORE: 93 Days to Kickoff: Westr Aurora]
Biggest storyline: Can the Green Wave reload and replace several multi-year starters lost to graduation this spring?
Names to watch this season: RB/LB Nick Wright and WR/DB Sidney Muhammed
Biggest holes to fill: Replacing standout quarterback Dylan Mlinarich will likely be one of the bigger projects for the 'Wave.
EDGY's Early Take: The Green Wave just missed out on the 2017 playoff because of low playoff points and will need to reload come August. Only two starters are back on both sides of the football. Look for St. Edward to get the football into the hands of RB Nick Wright quite a bit. WR Sidney Muhammed will also be another experienced play maker this fall.