Winter sports event warmed the gym

IVHS Athletic Director, Ericka Butler

The Illinois Valley High School Athletic Department came together to host an event Nov. 17 with the intention to bridge the gap between parents, winter sports players and coaches. Things proceeded smoothly over the course of the evening, and the parents of many winter sports participants were given an idea of what to expect over the course of the season.
The event kicked off with a presentation by Erica Butler, the school’s athletic director, outlining the expectations for parents and students alike as far as permissible conduct. Many points were touched upon during this presentation, including tobacco and vaping usage and how getting caught with such items could affect a player’s ability to participate in sports, and how parents should properly discuss any issues that they have within the chain of command. Butler stressed to the crowd that the athletics department is “here to shape young adults into positive and contributing members of society” and that they simply wish to help students become the best people and athletes that they can be.
After this presentation, the crowd split into several different groups, spreading out around the school so that the different coaches could speak with the parents of their team members in a more quiet setting. Tony Hess, the boys basketball coach, gave an emotional speech in the library about the plans that he has for his team this season, explaining that he is “fully invested in this community” and thinks that his team can do “big things.” His primary request from parents was that they find it within themselves to trust that he has their students’ best interests at heart going forward.
Wrestling coach Jesse Clark was similarly excited about the season, going into detail about his methodology and assessment parameters in order to ease any concerns parents may have about their students pushing their bodies too hard. He stressed the importance of keeping wrestlers well-hydrated and fed, adding that if parents were having trouble with this part of their wrestlers’ journey he would be more than happy to provide whatever assistance he can. Towards the end of his speech, he added that the team was “already doing more work than I expected this close in the season.”
Jonathan Reece, the head coach for the girls basketball team, ran his team through a rousing scrimmage in the gymnasium, and although it was only day three of their training, things seemed to be coming together nicely and Reece, along with his assistant coaches, were beaming with positive reinforcement and advice for their players.
Overall, the evening went well and was a promising display of compassion and integrity on the part of the athletics department, and it seemed there was a weight off many parents’ shoulders knowing that their students are in good hands.