Local coaches support move to NIU
Sycamore football coach Joe Ryan was shocked when he heard what the outcome of where the Illinois high school football state finals would be held.
The Daily Chronicle reported first Monday afternoon that Northern Illinois University will host the state finals in odd-numbered seasons starting in 2013 through 2021, beating out bids from Illinois State University and Southern Illinois University.
“I’m really surprised because ISU has had the state finals in the past and Illinois State is where their headquarters are,” Ryan said. “But obviously Northern must have done a very good job of putting together a good package.”
Even though Ryan was caught a little off guard by the decision, he still is excited that the state finals will be closer to home for both him and the Spartans.
“I don’t know if it has better motivational value, but it does bring it closer to our kids so they may have a better understanding of the state finals,” Ryan said.
The state finals have been hosted at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium for the past 13 years, buy scheduling changes in the Big Ten Conference will not allow the state finals to be played there during the odd-numbered years, and the IHSA needed a school to host it.
More than 100 Illinois high schools supported NIU’s bid for the state finals. Local football teams now are able to compete for the state finals that will be right in their backyard at Huskie Stadium in odd-numbered years.
“I love it. It’s close to us,” Genoa-Kingston coach Travis Frederick said. “I think it’s going to motivate every school in the DeKalb County area.”
Hiawatha coach Sean Donnelly says the IHSA made a great decision to bring the state finals to NIU and thinks NIU will get good publicity out of it. Both Ryan and Donnelly say they think the new Chessick Practice Center, set to open in time for the 2013 season, will benefit the high school players who will be given the opportunity to play in the state finals.
“They are going to be more motivated for sure. The players are going to want to play at NIU more than to go to the camps that are hosted there, which a lot of them do,” Donnelly said. “It will be good not just for Hiawatha, but for all schools.”
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