LANARK, IL - Approximately 120 football players, former players, students, parents, grand-parents, and football fans came to the Eastland Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, November 14. Due to the large public attendance anticipated, the meeting was held in the small gym at the high school instead of the board room at the elementary school.
The crowd was on hand to show their solidarity and support for the Eastland-Pearl City football cooperative and its head coach, Randy Asche. Rumors have been flying for many weeks now that Asche was to be fired after the season was over. There were also rumors that Eastland would not renew the co-op, which was started in 1996, when it is up for renewal In February of 2013.
School Board President Randy Hasken invited those who wished to speak to take their turn and address the Board. He did not set a time limit or number of speakers, but noted if they began to hear the same things being repeated they would stop and just note everyone who had that same opinion. Three students: Ramsay Truckenmiller, Mike Harrington, and Shandi Grozeninger, and three parents: Tammy Giedd, Wayne Fischer, and Dan Hamilton took their turn at the microphone to voice their support of the football program and the Coach. Jenna Simpson also spoke to thank the Board for their support of the cheerleading program.
The players spoke of the impact Asche has made on their lives. He believed in them and made them believe in themselves. He picked them up when they were down. They also spoke of the boys bonding and making life-long friends from another community that they may have never met if it weren’t for the co-op. And it was a close bond too. They call themselves the “CA (Coach Asche) Brotherhood.” They felt like a family and Asche made them feel like his own sons. They also asked why no one asked them, the players, how they felt about the co-op or Coach Asche.
The parents spoke of the positive impact the program has made on their kids. The strong bond between the players help keep their working hard at practice and working to keep their grades up to remain eligible to play. They noted that the co-op has made it to the playoffs at least nine times. They expressed their pride in the program as well as their kids. They too have made many new friendships across the school district boundaries.
Wayne Fischer, a parent for Pearl City stated, “As I look at your (Eastland’s) sports programs, and I mean this from a positive point of view. Because you folks have one of the best sports programs, as a whole. I see success in every area, in every sport.
“Yet, I would almost bet as you all look at your coaching staff, even with the amount of success you have received, you have your share of criticism that comes with every coach. And, it’s very simple, it’s just not possible to please everyone especially in a strong willed and strong minded community. This is where true leadership steps in and takes over.”
After some discussion, the Board issued the following statement regarding the Eastland-Pearl City Football Cooperative:
The Eastland Board of Education supports renewal of the Eastland-Pearl City Football Co-operative for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Board has directed Superintendent Hansen and Principal Burkholder to discuss with Pearl City administrators updates to the current agreement that will support continuance of the co-op.