Save Illinois High School Gymnastics Co-op Teams
This petition made change with 706 supporters!
We understand that one or more individuals/schools may have sought to effectively disband all gymnastics co-ops in the state of Illinois – boys’ and girls’ teams alike. Because we are concerned that the suggestion was made with the unstated intent to limit competition, we wholeheartedly disagree with it.
This proposal was recently submitted to the Illinois High School Association. The rationale is that co-op teams are able to pool from a larger group of students and thus have an unfair advantage to create a more competitive/winning team. We are a co-op girls' gymnastic team from Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, IL. We have won the Illinois State Championship for the past 2 years and as a result, have recently experienced the collective exclusion of our team from local meets for the upcoming gymnastics season. Unfortunately, we believe this complaint/proposal is targeted at our team.
We take issue with 4 aspects of this proposal:
1. Assumption that a larger student body equals athletic superiority and success
2. Timing of its submission
4. Belief that individual participation is an acceptable substitute to team participation
We’ll address each issue as succinctly as possible:
Assumption that a larger student body equals athletic superiority and success – incorrect
• Prairie Ridge High School co-op is not the largest co-op. Bartlett co-op has 5 schools with 7,198 students, Frankfort co-op has 3 schools with 6,946 students and we have 4 schools with 6,493 students. Bartlett and Frankfort co-ops have not won State. We didn’t win until 2015, despite being a co-op for 19 years.
• Our student enrollment is actually decreasing, not increasing. Our current enrollment is comparable to that in 2003-2004. Our peak enrollment was 2008-2009 and there was no complaint against our co-op at that time. Presumably because we were not winning championships at that time which brings us to:
Timing of this proposal – initiated after our second State Championship win
• According to the IHSA Gymnastics Advisory Committee Meeting minutes in April 6, 2016 (right after we won the State Championship for the 2nd year in a row), IHSA By-law 2.030 Cooperative Teams was discussed and a motion was made to change the by-law at that time. The motion was declined and that person was told to submit a proposal through proper legislative channels. This brings us to the current complaint/proposal of disbanding all boys’ and girls’ gymnastics co-ops.
• We find it curious that in the past 19 years, no complaints were made against co-ops and within 7 weeks of us winning the State Championship for a 2nd time, a discussion among the IHSA Gymnastics Advisory Committee of 6 members (2 from Palatine H.S., 1 from Palatine Fremd, 1 from Neuqua Valley, 1 from Geneva and 1 from Olympic Fields) of changing the by-laws in co-op gymnastics began behind closed doors.
Motive – appears to be a “get rid of the competition” proposal
• Multiple other schools have won the gymnastics State series in consecutive years - Palatine (Fremd) won 6 years straight (1994-1999) and again for 2 years in 2007-2008. Lincolnshire (Stevenson) won 4 years straight (2001-2004). Mundelein (Carmel) 3 years straight 2010-2012 and LaGrange (Lyons) 2013, 2014. We fully applaud the success of those schools and admire their ability to defend their State Championship titles so well but unfortunately, we feel that those sentiments are not reciprocated to us, which is why we believe the proposal to disband co-ops was made.
• Why only abolish gymnastics co-ops? If concern is for the unfair advantage of co-ops, then ALL 31 IHSA co-ops should be abolished
Belief that individual participation is an acceptable substitute for team participation – incorrect and the heart of the matter
• Supporters of this proposal rationalize that since gymnastics is typically an individual sport, team participation is not necessary. We argue that since gymnastics is traditionally an individual sport, high school is their only opportunity to experience team participation.
o Unlike most sports, gymnastics is an all-year commitment. Our girls are not able to participate meaningfully in other high school sports or teams. For example, after football season, those high school players can then play basketball, and then run in track, thus belonging to 3 different high school teams in 1 year. Gymnastics requires continued dedication and practice. Even 1 week off for summer vacation sets gymnasts back and they have to train harder to regain their skills. Gymnasts have only gymnastics as their sport.
o High School Gymnastics provides our girls a unique and treasured opportunity to be a part of a team, to feel like they belong, and know they are accepted. This is the experience we as parents are fighting for.
From a parent: “I know for my daughter she won’t want to compete in high school on her own. Her enjoyment comes from training with her team: going to the meets (riding on the bus), having pre-meet pasta parties with her teammates, making gift bags, hanging out and going to eat after the meets are done, that what she loves. She’s never played team sports and was just going to do Club (gymnastics) her freshman year but I’m glad she joined Prairie Ridge’s co-op team. She grew emotionally so much from being on that team. She bonded with the juniors and seniors as the season went on. Realistically, I don’t care if they win or lose, I just want her to experience the good, the ups, the downs and make bonds with girls in a high school team setting. That’s why she came back this year when she could easily stayed with Club gymnastics. She wanted to be a part of a team.”
Our co-op accepts all students regardless of their skill level. Though co-ops are allowed to “cut” players (see pg. 29 of IHSA By-Laws), our co-op does not.
Several new team members this year are beginner gymnasts. One has never participated in gymnastics before. Our coach believes anyone who wants to be part of our team should be allowed to do so. He welcomed her and the girls followed suit. Everyone deserves to belong to a team and the girls are learning how to be accepting of everyone, despite what they can or cannot do.
Truthfully we do not expect to win State this year. As with all athletic teams, success is cyclic. Our team is not as strong as it was last year, we lost 3 talented seniors. Who knows, it may take another 108 years until we win again but a trophy is not what we seek. Ultimately we want our daughters to grow to be women of character, filled with determination and compassion for others. We believe their high school co-op team is teaching them this. Please don’t take it away. Unlike Deerfield and Highland Park, our schools are unable to commit to an individual school gymnastics team. If the co-op is eliminated, our daughters will not have a team to turn to.
We sincerely hope the IHSA Board assesses this issue and elects to maintain the gymnastics co-ops for both boys and girls so that they have the continued opportunity to represent their school and community as they participate in interscholastic activities. After all, in line with IHSA’s mission and educators across the USA, we too believe that “participation in interscholastic activities offers students significant lifetime learning experiences that cannot be duplicated in any other instructional setting.”
Therefore, we respectfully and vigorously request that this proposal be declined.
The parents, students, coaches, school staff and community members of District 155 as well as supporters from other Illinois gymnastics co-ops, high schools and communities.
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