State Stories


National High School Activities Week

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National High School Activities Week provides schools with the opportunity to recognize young people, their coaches and sponsors, and their communities for all their efforts in helping students become better citizens,


“Community Service Participation Day” – Saturday, October 15, 2011

Community involvement and giving back are often the cornerstones of high school programs and one of the acts that keeps the bond between high school and community so strong. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and fitting to coincide with NFHS National Activities Week and National Community Service Participation Day on Saturday, October 15. The IHSA is proud to recognize that in partnership with the Illinois High School Volleyball Coaches Association (IHSVCA), IHSA member school volleyball squads are in their fourth year raising money and awareness for breast cancer through Volley For The Cure matches.

Since the IHSA and IHSVCA teamed up for a statewide initiative to encourage Volley For The Cure matches in 2008, schools have combined to raise $683,848.72 for Susan G. Komen For The Cure. If totals continue at their current pace, the schools will surpass $1 million dollars raised during the first four years of the initiative. The inaugural year in 2008 saw schools raise $192,000, with the number growing to $244,500 in 2009 and $247,348.71 in 2019.

“This has been a tremendously successful program,” said Peoria Susan G. Komen For The Cure Race Coordinator Stu Regnier. “It has been good for the sport of volleyball, good for the athletes and a positive for the Komen mission to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Volley for the Cure dollars allow Susan G. Komen to provide education and screening to women in the State of Illinois who would otherwise not have been served. We are grateful for our partnership with the IHSA and in assisting us in battling this disease which touches the lives of so many of us.”

Fundraising efforts at matches range from contests, raffles, donating gate receipts and selling t-shirts. Many officials associations throughout the state have also gotten involved by wearing pink whistles and uniforms. All who attend are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness.


“Fan Appreciation Day” – Friday, October 14, 2011

Fans can motivate, fans can inspire, and the best fans can teach. The best fans are the ones who applaud great effort from all participants, the greatest fans appreciate the coaches and sponsors, and the most valued fans respect competition officials. Today we say THANK YOU to those Fans. The young men and women that participate in IHSA interscholastic activities appreciate you.

Click the link below to read Pat Diabato's account in the SouthtownStar of one of the state's top fans:

At St. Rita, The Doctor Is Always In


“Coaches, Sponsors & Advisors Day” – Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011 is Coaches, Sponsors & Advisors Day as a part of NFHS National High School Activities Week. The IHSA is proud to recognize some of its finest coaches, as the following individuals have been named the NFHS State Coaches of the Year in Illinois. Each individual will now be considered for NFHS National Coach of the Year honors.

“Congratulations to all of the NFHS State Coaches of the Year,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “These individuals are selected not only based upon the success their teams enjoy, but on the character, sportsmanship and integrity they conduct themselves and their programs with. We are proud to have them represent the IHSA and the state of Illinois.”

SPORT                                    COACH OF THE YEAR, SCHOOL
Football                                    Ron Muhitch, Wheaton (W. Warrenville South)
Boys Track & Field                    Ed Adams, Chicago (Leo)
Boys Basketball                        Dave Witzig, Normal (Community)
Baseball                                   Justin Fleener, Teutopolis
Boys Soccer                             Lyn Larsen, Stillman Valley
Wrestling                                  Justen Lehr, Crystal Lake (Central)
Boys Cross Country                  JB Hanson, Lake Zurich
Boys Tennis                              Tad Eckert, Winnetka (New Trier)
Boys Golf                                  Nathan Mills, Mahomet (M.-Seymour)
Boys Swimming & Diving            Rahul Sethna, Mundelein (H.S.)
Badminton (Other)                      Karilyn Joyce, Evanston (Twp.)
Girls Track & Field                     Scott McMullen, Byron
Girls Basketball                         Tonya Johnson, Zion (Z.-Benton)
Volleyball                                  Angie Winter, Scales Mound
Softball                                     Tammy Deter, Morrison
Girls Soccer                              Kevin Emery, Warrensburg (W. Latham)
Girls Cross Country                   Mike Sullivan, Peoria (Notre Dame)
Girls Tennis                               Bob Keefe, Belleville (West)
Girls Swimming & Diving            Judy Busse, Downers Grove (North)
Spirit                                        Robbie Walters, Columbia 

The NFHS honors Coaches of the Year in the Top 10 boys and girls sports according to participation numbers. One coach is also selected as a winners from an "other" category made up nominees from sports that do not fall in the Top 10. The IHSA nominees from sports that fall into the "other" category include: Jami Stilling, Schaumburg, Girls Gymnastics;  Brad Foerch, Naperivlle (North), Boys Gymnastics;  Sue Rothzen, Biggsville (West Central), Boys Bowling;  Andrew Bersett, Edwardsville, Boys Volleyball;  Sean Hay, Collinsville, Girls Bowling;  Pat Hetterman, Champaign (St. Thomas More), Girls Golf;  Craig Fowles, McHenry, Boys Water Polo;  Mike Cashman, Chicago (St. Ignatius Prep), Girls Water Polo.


“Youth Health Awareness Day” – Wednesday, October 12, 2011

As a sports medicine physician, I have seen and been asked about many “hot topics” through the years. None, however, have caught the attention of so many people as that of concussions. From parents of Pop Warner football players all the way up to our own US Congress, a nation continues to be perplexed on what to do with the alleged “rising incidence” of concussions. The NFL even deemed 2010 as the “Year of Concussion Awareness”. For many non-sports enthusiasts, the answer seems simple - get rid of football. In fact, this was the suggestion of a medical ethicist at a conversational forum about concussions. Her contention was that physicians take the Hippocratic Oath to always do what is best for our patients, and how could we ethically allow our patients to partake in an activity that could result in such potentially devastating consequences? While I can see her point, the same argument would then have to be made for every patient who plays any contact sport, rides in a car, or dares to walk on icy pavement. It would also have to include any child who plays at a park, in their backyard or on playground equipment. It is impossible to eliminate concussions from real life. They can happen to anyone, at any time and anywhere. One very astute coach made the observation that everyone is worried about allowing kids to play football, while many parents let their children ride bikes without helmets. He has a valid point. Football gets the most attention due to the sheer numbers of participants. Studies actually show that many other sports have equal or greater percentages of concussions. These include soccer and ice hockey to name a few. But the argument isn’t who is winning the race in terms of the number of concussions. The argument should be how and why we should maintain youth participation in sports while still protecting them from head injury.

With over 38 million young boys and girls participating in youth sports in the US, sports have the opportunity to play in integral part in the development of our children. The benefits of participating in a sport abound. With our rising obesity epidemic, athletic activities help to instill healthy habits for life in our next generation. Sports are also the perfect forum for young people to learn life skills such as teamwork, leadership, resiliency, time-management, respect for authority and application of rules. Sports teach about the fact that hard work and extra effort can reap results, even for those who may not have been blessed with amazing natural abilities. They also help young people to understand about winning and losing gracefully, Additionally, sports involvement can help young people with socialization and acceptance of others as well as assist with stress relief. Some studies report that sports have the potential to keep at-risk kids from joining gangs and that sports also can help to keep kids in school and to achieve better grades. So with all of these positives, how could an ethical physician suggest that contact sports be abolished?

Rather than eliminate sports off the map, we all need to do our part to EDUCATE. Parents, coaches and players need to understand that they have a part in concussion prevention and treatment. Safety in all activities should be a number one priority. The proper equipment for the sport should be used at all practices and games. It should be well-maintained and fit correctly. Coaches and officials need to ensure that safety rules are enforced to help in prevention of injuries. If that is not occurring, it needs to be reported. All coaches, parents, officials and players also need to be provided with education on the signs and symptoms of concussion. The CDC has free materials and on-line training courses to assist with this process. While no one expects these groups to become experts in concussion management, they can stick with the mantra; “when in doubt, sit them out” as it is better to miss one game than a whole season. Once a concussion is suspected, it is paramount to see a physician who is trained in managing concussions and deals with them on a regular basis. The bottomline is that no athlete should be allowed to return to play the same day as a concussion and/or if they are still experiencing any symptoms. The early success of the nation’s educational efforts is seen in the fact that more concussions are now being reported. For the record, the incidence has likely not increased, just the reporting.

Lately when I’m asked if concussions are something to fear, I respond that they are not to be feared, just respected. One cannot ignore symptoms and try to play through it or they risk long-term injury and/or more devastating consequences. Those patients with recurrent concussions need to weigh the risk versus benefits of continuing their sport, as no magic number exists to tell us when one has had too many concussions. The good news is that the medical field will continue to advance with regards to concussion management and prevention. Until then, nothing takes the place of education and good old common sense.

Carrie A. Jaworski, MD
Primary Care Sports Medicine Physician
NorthShore University Health System
Former Head Team Physician for Northwestern University


“Officials Day” – Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I was raised in a home where education was the expectation, not an option. At the same time, as one of eight children in a family of modest means, it was up to each one of us to make our own way to college. For my brothers (there were six of us) and I, competing in high school athletics was a catalyst that helped us on the way to accomplishing our dreams. For me, that dream has resulted in becoming an NCAA basketball referee and the Superintendent of Schools of one of the best districts in the State of Illinois.

Through high school athletics, I learned the spirit and the value of competition. Playing team sports taught me the value of honesty and responsible decision-making. It also taught me how to rebound from setbacks and failures—that is to keep working hard…to set higher goals…to persevere until success is achieved. I also learned to understand the enormous difference between suffering a defeat and being defeated.

I played both basketball and baseball at Alton High School, and as a result, I earned a scholarship to play basketball at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. During that time, I began to referee intramural basketball because even a scholarship didn’t pay a student’s every expense. I moved from intramurals to junior high to high school to junior college and, finally, to Division I basketball—a job I have enjoyed for over 30 years.

I have had the honor and pleasure of refereeing 12 Final Four tournaments, and I was chosen to represent the United States at the World Games. The road wasn’t easy—I had to “pay my dues”—but things that are worthwhile rarely happen by chance. My job as a referee has given me the opportunity to see parts of the world that I would likely have never seen otherwise.

My scholarship also afforded me the opportunity to earn my bachelor’s degree in education, which led to my achievement of the “other” part of my dream. When I was a member of the Student Council in high school, I was elected Principal of the Day. From that day on, I knew that education was the career path I would pursue. I was a teacher, a coach, a principal, an assistant superintendent, and finally a superintendent.

It is from this position, particularly, that I see every day the impact that athletics and other school activities can have on the lives of students. The power of education lies not only in textbooks and teachers but also in the wealth of experiences available to students—whether it is music, theater, academic clubs, or athletics. School has something for everyone—take advantage of it.

Dr. Ed Hightower
Superintendent of Schools, Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7
NCAA Basketball Referee


“Fine Arts & Activities Day” – Monday, October 10, 2011

As the assistant principal for student activities at Wheeling High School I have to wear many hats. Countless times during the year I will start my afternoon watching a play or choir performance. Then I will head to the gym to catch some volleyball or wrestling, before heading to a booster meeting or community event. While all of these events can make scheduling a challenge, it is always exciting to see our students involved in so many great activities and athletic events.

Sometimes, unexpected things pop-up that bring these two worlds together. An example of this happened last year when a Wheeling High School alumni made the Top 3 on American Idol. Wheeling’s own, Haley Reinhart (pictured right with Steve), was involved in our athletic and fine arts program at Wheeling High School. When she made the final 3 on Idol, she was given a Hometown Visit. Part of her visit was a return to Wheeling High School.

In order to facilitate her visit, we had numerous meetings with the Idol team. I had to help coordinate her arrival and itinerary when she was at Wheeling. Haley was welcomed back by a large crowd outside of school. She was then escorted around and reunited with her favorite music teacher. Haley also spoke to a gym full of her adoring fans before we went to a classroom to catch our breath.

After she left Wheeling we helped her march in a parade, complete with our marching band and mascots in full costume. Finally, Haley had a concert at the Arlington Race Track in front of 30,000 fans. Included in the crowd were over 1,500 Wheeling students.

All in all it was a very busy but rewarding day. To honor a former student who was a vital part of our co-curricular programs was very exciting. Haley was very thankful of all Wheeling had done for her and we are very proud of our American Idol.

Dr. Steve May
Assistant Principal for Student Activities
Wheeling High School        


“Be A Sport Day” – Sunday, October 9, 2011

The 2011 NFHS National High School Activities Week kicks off today with National Be a Sport Day. A day to encourage awareness and discussion about the importance of sportsmanship, ethics and integrity during interscholastic programs. Ethics, integrity and respect are values important in our daily lives. All of these values are learned by participation in interscholastic activity programs.

Did you know that Illinois is the only state association in the country to have its own Sportsmanship Mascot…the one and only Add A. Tude (right).

Created in the summer of 1997, Add A. Tude represents the vigor and friendliness of proper behavior that is the backbone of good sportsmanship. Add A. Tude is a player, a teacher, a community leader and a team supporter who willingly volunteers to serve as a positive role model for the elementary and high school interscholastic athletic and activity programs in Illinois. Having appeared as a symbol of sportsmanship at IHSA events for nearly 15 years, Add A. Tude continues to stand for self-control, positive support and respect for authority and peers.

Role models are more important than ever in today’s society. You can serve a as a role model for others the next time you display good sportsmanship at a high school athletic event. Good sports are winners, so the next time you attend a sporting event, remember to be a good sport and act properly. Your ticket to an interscholastic athletic event is a privilege, a privilege to watch youngsters learn on the playing field. Good sportsmanship is learned, practiced and executed. Respect for the opponent, spectators, coaches, and officials is necessary at all levels of athletics and activity programs. Display good sportsmanship the next time you attend a high school event.


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