WHEATON – The St. Francis Academy football team has elected not to play its Friday game at Hope Academy in Chicago a week after gunshots interrupted Providence Catholic's game at Hope.
"In light of the incident last Friday and another shooting at the same park during little league games, we felt it was necessary to discuss with Hope Academy moving the game to another location," St. Francis President Tom Bednar said in a statement.
"Hope Academy did not think it was feasible to move the game to St. Francis’ stadium and there simply was not time to work out the logistics of obtaining a neutral site. The safety of ALL players, coaches, students and fans is our primary concern.
"Regrettably, the combination of shots being fired near last Friday’s game at the same field and the lack of other venues led us to believe that the safest option for all would be to not play this Friday night at Hope Field Altgeld Park and forfeit the game."
Providence Catholic High School Principal John Harper sent an email to parents Monday regarding the nearby gunshots that interrupted the New Lenox school's football game Friday in Chicago.
The email told parents about the situation and confirmed that about three minutes into the game against Hope Academy at Altgeld Park on the west side of Chicago, gunshots were heard at a nearby intersection outside the stadium. Students, fans and coaches were instructed to lie low on the ground as a precaution until the all clear signal was given about 20 minutes later.
No one was hurt.
Chicago police officers responded to the scene and no one was arrested and no report was generated.
"A Chicago police commander reassured Providence Catholic Athletic Director, Doug Ternik that the situation was isolated and not related to the game inside the stadium," Harper wrote in the email. "Chicago Police remained at the stadium until the conclusion of the game as a precaution."
Harper added the game concluded with a running clock at about 9:30 p.m. without any more issues. Administrators have met with several football players, cheerleaders and coaches who were at the game to discuss the shooting.
Jennifer Jobe-Gavin, a parent of two of the football players, told The Herald-News the cheerleaders were getting off the bus at the time and were a bit shaken by the shooting and went back home after the all clear was given.
"Providence Catholic High School will provide any necessary support and resources to students affected in this incident," Harper wrote. "Providence Catholic, Hope Academy and the Chicago Catholic League will carefully review security plans, procedures and logistics for future athletic events to ensure that all student athletes, teams and fans are in a secure and safe environment."