DeKALB – John Tranchitella doesn’t know where his 10 year high school reunion will take place. Neither does Kyle Jenkins.
The two defenders from the Northern Illinois football team graduated from Driscoll Catholic in Addison, which Christian Brothers of the Midwest district announced would be closing at the end of this academic year because of a drop in enrollment and financial struggles.
“We’re all just kind of upset about it,” Tranchitella said. “It’s hard. If it does close, what are we going to go back to?”
Tranchitella, a senior linebacker, and Jenkins, a junior defensive end who signed with the Huskies from Harper College this past winter, were teammates at Driscoll, which had won seven straight state football titles before losing in the Class 4A quarterfinals this season. Tranchitella and Jenkins were a part of the state title streak.
Jenkins found out about the announcement when his brother, Trace, a senior defensive end, sent him a text message. Tranchitella was in his house in DeKalb when his parents told him the news.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard it,” Jenkins said. “I heard rumors about it closing down because of the economy and the lack of enrollment but I didn’t think it was going to be coming this soon. I was really surprised.”
Now, the two are trying to raise funds to keep the school open for at least another year. The reported number the school needs to reach is $1 million. Jenkins said he’s heard that if financial conditions don’t improve in a few years that number could reach as high as $3.5 million.
For now, the two NIU players are taking time when they can to call alumni to try and raise funds. Jenkins mentioned that he, Tranchitella and some high school friends might throw a fundraiser of their own.
“We’re calling a bunch of alumni, obviously the ones that have had success business-wise,” Jenkins said. “Hopefully someone will donate a large amount.”
Jenkins and Tranchitella are still very connected to the high school. They both use “we” when talking about Driscoll and the memories they helped create there.
“If it stays open I think we can continue on,” Tranchitella said. “We’ve got good coaches over there. We just need to get some more enrollment there. That’s one thing we’ve been lacking.”
Enrollment at Driscoll has reportedly dropped from the 450s to around 300.
If the school does close, important pieces from a perennial state football power will be scattered across the Chicago suburbs, something Tranchitella couldn’t see himself going through if he were still in high school.
“I couldn’t see myself going to Addison Trail, maybe another school in the conference,” he said. “But I could never see myself going any other place than Driscoll.”