Lady Tigers team, coaches plead case for season

Posted 11/16/20

The Paris High School Lady Tiger basketball team and their coaches made impassioned pleas to allow the girls basketball team to begin practices during the Monday, Nov. 9, Paris High School board …

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Lady Tigers team, coaches plead case for season


The Paris High School Lady Tiger basketball team and their coaches made impassioned pleas to allow the girls basketball team to begin practices during the Monday, Nov. 9, Paris High School board meeting.

The team members, accompanied by Lady Tiger Coach Dave Tingley and Assistant Coach Missy Tingley arrived together and everyone wore mask. Paris Tiger boys Coach Chase Brinkley also attended. Lady Tiger parent Matt Young joined the meeting by telephone,

Young, whose daughter, Kendra, is a sophomore member of the Lady Tiger team, made it clear he was not speaking for his wife, Crestwood Superintendent of Schools Danette Young. He discounted arguments that allowing the basketball teams to play would expose Paris 95 and Crestwood school districts to litigation if a team member, family member or opposing player or coach became critically ill.

He said schools can sued at any time and making decisions by worry gives the kids what he described as a raw deal.

Young explained he purchased a $400 insurance policy in July for a travel team and questioned the insurance agent if the policy is costing more due to COVID-19.

“If it was at all risky, wouldn’t it (the policy) have cost a lot more,” he said.

The board members were urged to consider all that’s been taken away from the student athletes, including their privilege to represent their school as a Paris Tiger. Other states have allowed athletics and other extracurricular activities to be wide open, he noted.

Young claims the high school has three options:

νAllow the basketball teams to begin practice Nov. 16 and play practice games with a couple of schools.

νAllow the teams to begin practice Nov. 16 and if no other schools choose to do so, then continue practices.

νDon’t follow the guidelines announced by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and its sports medicine committee resulting in no basketball season.

If no basketball is allowed, Young requested the board and administration not hold anything against the coaches.

“Please use the IHSA and IHSA Sport Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) as a foundation to say yes,” Young concluded.

Lady Tiger junior Maddie Rigdon spoke on behalf of her fellow team members. She said the players know the risks and asked the team be allowed to continue practice. She noted not playing means some team members — including herself — may lose the opportunity to play basketball at the college level.

Dave Tingley said he was addressing the board on behalf of the team and the sport. He acknowledged the board members face a difficult decision about whether to allow the teams to play. If the answer is no, he said, his plan is to organize a travel team to play without restraint by traveling outside of Illinois for games.

Tingley emphasized the commitment to provide a safe and secure environment for the team to play. He asked the board consider alternative options for a basketball season and noted he and boys Coach Chase Brinkley are available to serve on a committee to discuss options.

Brinkley said he was representing his team and emphasized no coach wants to put their players in any situation which is unsafe or harmful.

A former Paris Tiger basketball player, Brinkley said he, “can’t imagine not being able to play basketball as a Paris Tiger. I can’t imagine losing a year of playing basketball.”

PHS Athletic director Creighton Tarr, who spoke to the board via telephone, emphasized every coach and player understands the tough decision the board faces.

“We also realize the decision may be out of our hands,” he said.

Tarr said opportunities are needed for PHS students.

“This is conversation we need to have to see what we can do for these kids,” he said.

Paris 95 Superintendent of School Jeremy Larson expressed thanks to the team members, coaches, parents and those who called in by telephone concerning the basketball season. The high school board members — composed of three Crestwood and three Paris 95 school board members — are in difficult position. He noted he and Danette Young joined 200 Illinois superintendents signing a letter urging Governor JB Pritzker to reconsider his decision raising basketball and volleyball to high risk sports.

“We hate the things taken away from the kids,” Larson said.

The PHS board members will take all the information presented under consideration, Larson said and explained there could be no decision during that meeting because it was not an agenda item.

When asked by parent if there is a timeline for decision, Larson said no.

“We’re taking this on a day-by-day basis,” he said.

As of Monday, PHS has completed 58 days of in-person learning. Since the beginning of school, a total of 225 students have been contact traced with 16 students testing positive for COVID-19. A total of six staff members have been contact traced — one member twice — and two have tested positive. Also as of Monday, 66 students were in quarantine, and three students tested positive.

Of the 526 students enrolled at PHS, 406 (77%) are in-person learners while 121 are remote learners.

PHS principal Mark Cox thanked Prospect Bank, Dimond Bros. Insurance and Edgar County Longbeards for the use of their tents for student mask breaks. 

Cox said the student council is sponsoring a spirit week. Two of the most successful events at the school recently were the Halloween Trunk or Treat with 300 cars visiting and the homeroom pumpkin painting contest.

“That’s the most laughter we’re heard in the school this year,” Cox said. “It was good to hear.”

In other business, the board:

-Accepted a donation of a piano from Alan and Christie Russell.

-Accepted the donation of $3,159 from the oversite board of the Paris Center of Fine Arts to repair rigging in the theater.

-Accepted a $400 donation from the Knights of Columbus for the purchase of cameras for the special education department.

-Heard the high school passed the Regional Office of Education health, life and safety inspection.