Tigers kickoff a league of their own

Krista Mehrl, Views Editor

For seniors throughout the campuses of Joliet West and Central, this year already seems like an enormous change. In the fall of 2008, the new freshmen that came in to Joliet Township played on separate athletic teams. The seniors of this school year continued to play with their combined “Steelmen” teams. The adjustment continued, and though it has been a slow and tedious three-year change, the end has finally come. Joliet West and Joliet Central have completely split their athletic teams. Joliet West is officially made up of “Tigers.” 

West and Central hold a lengthy history of competition. When West opened in 1964, the schools versed each other with their own unique and separate pride. This high level of competition continued until 1994 when the teams felt pressured by a short budget to combine into one Joliet Township team. The Steelmen mascot held seniority, and the Tiger eventually got packed up and replaced. Flash forward fourteen more years of the “Joliet West Steelmen,” and the Tiger was reborn by the class of 2012.

The Varsity Steelmen will compete against each other for the first time in fourteen years on Oct. 2nd when the separate football teams will face off. The juniors are used to playing against the kids from Central, but the seniors will be competing against their well-acquainted three-year teammates. In the past, the combined teams have been evenly distributed with players from both schools. Now, both schools are focusing on the single task of building up a program that exceeds through hard work and stats.   

The Varsity Volleyball coach, Al Mart, has had to make some adjustments as well. The team is relatively young compared to those of the past. When tryouts were held in 2007 for the Freshman Township Steelmen team, more than fifty ambitious girls competed in the non-air-conditioned Central gym for a spot to play. Once the majority of girls got cut from the team, the girls that were left were a mixture of students from Central and West. Now that West has broken away from Central, West has lost half of its team. Naturally, younger athletes who normally would have played on the sophomore and even freshmen-level teams had to be bumped up to fill in those empty spots on varsity. “We do have a young team this year – it’s a great opportunity for these young ladies.  They may struggle initially but will be better off in the future because of it,” Mart said.

Although it is commonly assumed that every single team has split, the tennis, swimming, and golf teams will most likely not split until after the 2011-2012 school year. If these smaller teams had split this school year, either Central or West would not have been able to have a full competing team for the sport. Girls’ Swimming did not split because neither school owns its own pool or aquatic facility. Still, this position is not ideal for girls from Central. “I think we have less girls from Central because they have to take a shuttle from central to west, then get a bus from west to Inwood and reverse the route home and take the activity bus home,” Angela Ferrucci, the Varsity Girls’ Swimming Coach, said. Even though other teams may struggle from the change, Girls’ Varsity Tennis remains strong. In fact, they have started out undefeated, with a record of 4-0.

This year is going to be a difficult transition for many young teams throughout the township. It may take a few years to recover, but in the end, the split will positively affect the Tigers as a whole.