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    Coaches Try to Give Soccer Red Card

    Brett Templeton
    Wednesday, September 7, 2016

    The Pinckneyville-Du Quoin “Panthians” soccer team played their first match against the Herrin-Carterville “Ligers” last week and won. Despite the team’s success, coaches at both Pinckneyville and Du Quoin High Schools have voiced issues with the creation of the team.

    The Perry County Soccer Association visited Districts 101 and 300 school boards last month to discuss questions raised regarding the soccer program’s needs.

    The group was approved by both school’s boards as a club to play for the 2016-2017 school year. However, PCHS administration said they had conversations with IHSA, and the program might be allowed to move forward as a IHSA sport beginning in the fall 2017 season.

    Dwayne Epplin of the Perry County Soccer Association told the boards that the soccer league is currently paying for the whole program.

    “The soccer league is not costing anyone a dime,” he said. Because they have been a business for the past 11 years, and they’ve been planning on an end-game like this one, the league has saved enough money from corporate sponsors and parents that this program will come at no cost to the schools.

    In the end, Districts 101 and 300 both approved the soccer program, and the “Panthians” were given the go ahead.

    Following the approval of the soccer team, coaches from both Du Quoin and Pinckneyville schools spoke out against the program. Both groups of coaches said they were “concerned about the board’s decision to assist in forming a high school soccer program,” in letters addressed to each set of coach’s respective school board that the Pinckneyville Press/Du Quoin Weekly acquired via Freedom of Information Act Request.

    The coaches said they were worried that, with the number of students currently participating in the athletic program being limited adding another program will hurt the current programs.

    They also listed economic difficulties as a concern. The letter read, “We are also concerned that in an economic climate where the District is already experiencing difficulty in funding current athletic programming that the addition of yet another athletic team will further stress the District’s budget.”

    The letters, for the most part, matched each other identically. One of the last paragraphs of both letters read:

    “Finally, as a coaching staff, we have always valued the support of the Board and recognize the difficulty that comes with choosing to serve our community. We applaud your efforts and appreciate your desire to provide our students with the best possible school experience. However, we were not asked to be at the table to provide input into this decision and believe our opinions would have ben invaluable to the Board. As educators who have chosen to give extra time to coaching — we, too, are extremely mindful of the importance of athletics and providing students with well-rounded experiences. But only if we can do so with a level of quality that our students and community have come to expect. We believe it will be difficult to maintain such a quality experience if we have to share student-athletes with an additional program.”

    Of the Pinckneyville Athletic Department, Ryan Bruns, Alan Engelhard, Todd Thomas, Tod Rushing, Lindy Rushing, William Segelhorst, Greg Zmudminski, Mike Cheek, Nolan Kellerman, Bob Waggoner, Cathy Kohler and Kyle Heckert signed the letter. Of Du Quoin’s Athletic Department, A.J. Hill, Derek Beard, Shayne Boyett, Isaac Miller, Shawn File, Jason James, Sarah Geiger, Justin Barrington and Megan Day signed.

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