The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met for its regularly scheduled meeting, which included both virtual and in-person attendance, on Monday, August 23, 2021, where the Board approved the formation of an esports State Series and began a new era for the IHSA Boys and Girls Swimming & Diving State Finals at FMC Natatorium in Westmont.
ESPORTS STATE SERIES ESTABLISHED
The IHSA will hold its first-ever esports State Series in April of 2022 with the inaugural state tournament featuring three titles: NBA2K, Rocket League, and Super Smash Brothers.
“It is exciting any time that we can expand the IHSA mission by offering another opportunity for students to represent their schools in competition,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “We appreciate the time and effort put forth by our staff and the committee members who helped get us to this point.”
Esports becomes the 10th activity offered by the IHSA, joining bass fishing, chess, debate, drama & group interpretation, speech, journalism, music, and scholastic bowl. The addition of esports brings the IHSA’s total State Series offerings to 41 total sports and activities.
“Not unlike when the IHSA added bass fishing, some may question how esports fits into the IHSA’s offerings, but we never wavered in our belief that we want to align the Association with the interests of our high school students,” said Anderson. “Research shows that there are educational, mental, and social benefits to having students compete for their high school in any activity or sport, so we look forward to Illinois high school students who are passionate about esports being able to enjoy those benefits.”
The IHSA’s esports State Series will be held during weeks 42 and 43 of the standardized IHSA calendar (April 17-April 30, 2022). The Association staff will begin the process of finding a state final host venue immediately and bring a recommendation to the Board later this year.
NEW STATE SWIMMING & DIVING VENUE
Featuring an Olympic-size competition pool, FMC Natatorium in Westmont opened in 2020 and is one of the premier facilities of its kind in the Midwest. The State Finals will be co-hosted there by Hinsdale Central High School and Hinsdale South High School beginning with the 2021-22 school year and encompass the 2022-23 and 2023-24 state final meets as well.
“FMC Natatorium is honored to be selected as the new location of the IHSA Swimming & Diving State Championships,” said FMC Natatorium Director of Facilities Dave Krotiak. “We hope to carry on the traditions, excitement, and quality of the events established by the IHSA. Hinsdale School District 86 is the perfect host with a strong leadership team led by Dan Jones (Hinsdale Central) and Art Ostrow (Hinsdale South). A special thank you to Evanston Township and New Trier High School for the many years of supporting swimming and diving student-athletes’ dreams.”
FMC Natatorium is a state-of-the-art venue that features spectator seating for 1,400, a deck capacity of 800, warm-up and cool down pools, and a video scoreboard with an integrated timing system.
“We have followed the progress of the FMC Natatorium ever since MaryAnn and Mark Kaufman announced their vision for this facility,” said Anderson. “We recognized that the amenities of this natatorium would make it ideal to hold what is regarded as one of the top high school swimming meets in the country. We believe this is where the Illinois high school swimming and diving community wants the state meet to be held, despite the incredible history that has been made at New Trier and Evanston. We are excited about the future at FMC Natatorium, while looking back with nothing but fondness and appreciation for all that New Trier and Evanston have contributed.”
New Trier first hosted the IHSA Boys Swimming & Diving State Finals in 1937 and has hosted the event more than any other venue in state history. New Trier hosted consecutively from 1943 to 1957, before rotating those responsibilities with Evanston Township beginning in 1958. Aside from two years at Hinsdale South (1982, 1986) and one at Downers Grove South (1980), every boys state meet has been held at New Trier or Evanston since 1943. The IHSA Girls State Finals debuted at New Trier in 1975, and aside from one year apiece at Downers Grove South (1976) and Downers Grove North (1979), has been conducted at New Trier or Evanston every year since.
“It has been an honor for New Trier High School and Evanston Township High School to jointly host the IHSA boys & girls swimming & diving state finals,” said New Trier Athletic Director Augie Fontanetta, who also serves on the IHSA board. “It is a unique and special experience to be associated with the history and tradition of this amazing state tournament. However, this is the right decision for the high school swimmers and divers in our state. FMC Natatorium is a world-class facility and offers a significant number of ancillary benefits for competitors and spectators. I look forward to seeing our student-athletes compete there as we write the next chapter of IHSA state swimming & diving in Westmont.”
1. The Board approved a recommendation to institute two measures related to member school adherence to the state’s current Executive Order 85 mandating masks. IHSA schools will not be allowed to participate in the State Series for a sport if they remain on Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) probation for non-compliance with the state mask mandate on the date of seeding (or the list of participant entry deadline) in that sport. Additionally, the IHSA staff has been directed to set appropriate timelines based on the schedule for each fall sport to begin relieving schools of their State Series hosting responsibilities if they are currently on ISBE probation due to non-compliance with the state mask mandate.
||State Series Seeding/Entry Date
|Boys & Girls Golf
|1A Boys Soccer
|2A/3A Boys Soccer
|Boys & Girls Cross Country
|Girls Swimming & Diving
IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson:
“The IHSA Board of Directors did not look at this situation as being a pro-mask or anti-mask issue, nor did they view their ruling as any type of political stance. Setting aside their own personal opinions, they were unanimous in the belief that the IHSA is a rule-driven organization that should continue to align with ISBE rules for the good of its membership. The Board felt that not following the mandate was akin to a team picking and choosing what rules they were going to follow in a football game or volleyball match. Anecdotally, they shared a growing frustration among schools on how the scheduling process has been impacted by schools not following the mandate, which ultimately led them to set forth measures that they believe will help prevent some of those same issues from occurring during the postseason.”
2. The Board approved a recommendation extending the state final hosting contracts for the Class 1A & Class 2A Baseball State Finals at Dozer Park in Peoria. The contract is four years in length and encompasses the state tournaments from 2022 through 2025.
3. The Board approved a recommendation extending the state final hosting contract for the Class 1A Boys Soccer State Finals at the Eastside Centre in East Peoria. The contract is three years in length and encompasses the state tournaments from 2021 through 2023. East Peoria High School will continue to serve as the host.
IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson:
“We continue to have great experiences hosting IHSA state tournaments in the greater Peoria area and are appreciative of East Peoria High School and the Peoria Chiefs’ desire to continue hosting state soccer and baseball, respectively. Both are championship caliber venues with amazing staff members and community members working behind the scenes to create once in a lifetime memories for our student-athletes, coaches, and fans.”
4. The Board approved recommendation to raise the IHSA Boys and Girls Swimming & Diving State Final ticket price from $10 to $15.
5. The Board approved recommendation to offer a new partnership initiative with the NFHS Network that will provide all IHSA member schools with the option to add automated Pixellot streaming cameras in their stadium facility and main gymnasium facility at no charge for the technology or installation.
6. The Board approved a recommendation to allow Georgetown (Notre Dame de la Salette) to move from an Associate IHSA membership status to full IHSA membership status.
APPEALS & ELIGIBILITY RULINGS
1. The Board modified the Executive Director’s ruling on a student from Macomb, who is now eligible to compete immediately. The student was initially ruled ineligible for non-compliance with IHSA By-law 3.030 and its sub-sections.
At each meeting of the Board of Directors, there are certain items the Board discusses, but upon which no action was taken or action may not be required. The following is a report of those items from the August 23, 2021, agenda:
1. The Board discussed ideas for recruiting and retaining officials. The Board approved a special rate for school personnel licensing for the first-time as IHSA officials. Any school staff member (certified and non-certified) can license at a reduced rate in their first ($20) and second ($45) school years as an IHSA official. This special pricing initiative will also include any current college students who are in a teacher education program.
IHSA Executive Director, Craig Anderson:
“Among the numerous ideas and initiatives being considered to enhance the recruitment and retention of IHSA officials, encouraging those already in the school setting feels like a natural link. They are already on-campus, have a fondness for giving back to students, many have previously served as coaches, and their schedules often align well with high school sports schedules. This is a direct invitation to any school personnel in an Illinois school to consider getting involved as an official. Officiating is an enriching vocation that offers extra money and camaraderie within a tightknit community.
2. The Board confirmed the application of by-law 5.072 requiring in-person, on-field practice to meet the practice minimum for interscholastic competition.
3. The Board discussed a plan to continue to utilize digital state final programs throughout the 2021-22 school year. An option to have a traditional hard copy program printed and sent to consumers will also be made available. One-page flip card programs will be printed and sold on a trial basis at select state finals.
4. The Board held a discussion with Anna-Jonesboro High School Principal Brett Detering on a forthcoming IHSA by-law amendment proposal his school plans to submit.
5. The Board heard a report from IHSA Assistant Executive Director Stacey Lambert on concussion reporting data from member schools during the 2020-21 school year.
6. The Board heard a report from Coordinator of Special Programs Raye McDonald on the all-school mailing conducted on August 6 that provided important preliminary documents for the school year to member school administrators.