Parents of varsity tennis players told the District 233 school board that all sports at Homewood-Flossmoor High School deserve the same attention as football, basketball and track.
The tennis team needs more support, they said, arguing that the team doesn’t have a coaching staff that can challenge players and help improve their game. They want a strong program that can get their players eligible for college scholarships, said parent Kenneth Wright who has served as a volunteer tennis coach.
During the school board’s Sept. 21 meeting, Wright told the board “there has to be some accountability” on the part of the coaches and the school district that should be evaluating each sports program.
“I’m asking this board to develop (coaching) criteria to make sure not just that they’re teachers in our building, but USPTA (U.S. Professional Tennis Association) certified and have been teaching in camps and demonstrate those skills” and capable of developing a tennis program.
Donna Roberts, whose two sons play tennis, said she is thinking of pulling her sons from H-F teams because of the coaching situation. Roberts also called the H-F uniforms “a disgrace.” They’re old and oftentimes mismatched, she said, and she wondered why the team isn’t provided with warm-up pants and jackets.
Parent Terrence Wright said, “I really truly believe when our kids have made the investment and the dedication to (tennis) that as a board and parents we have a responsibility to invest in them.”
Jamal Kendrick, whose daughter is a junior tennis player, said coaches have said she has the potential to be a college player. Kendrick said the girls team coach “is doing his best, but he doesn’t have the support.”
Superintendent Von Mansfield, whose daughters played tennis while at H-F, said he’s aware of the competitive rigor and many hours H-F students put into their sport. He promised parents there will be further discussion and follow-up action where needed.
Mansfield told parents, “There’s no reason if you say our uniforms are not up to par that that should be the case.” The superintendent also acknowledged that the bulk of the H-F coaching staff does come from the teacher ranks, but added “If they’re not capable of doing that, our athletic director is in charge of evaluating the situation.”
Mansfield said the tennis courts are on schedule to be repaired in 2022 as part of H-F’s routine maintenance schedule.
“We always put money into all of our sports and clubs and activities. In terms of being fair, we’ve always been fair, and I promise that to you,” Mansfield said.
Board member Michelle Hoereth, whose four sons are soccer players, said she appreciated hearing from the parents and their drive for equity in sports.
“Equity, that is the word we all need to have top of mind; all of our students as well as our parents,” she said.