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'It's a Relief': Hinsdale District 86 board reinstates sports after voters OK $140 million bond referendum

Football, wrestling, swimming, water polo and cheerleading teams off the chopping block

Hinsdale Central quarterback Matthew Rush hands the ball to teammate Nick Franko during their game against Glnebard West Oct. 5.
Hinsdale Central quarterback Matthew Rush hands the ball to teammate Nick Franko during their game against Glnebard West Oct. 5.

Hinsdale Central athletic director Dan Jones quickly went to work finalizing the football team’s season opener next year.

A few miles away, Hinsdale South junior quarterback Marquese Garrett finally got a good night’s sleep.

Throughout the Hinsdale and Darien area, there was a measure of happiness, relief and excitement after the Hinsdale High School District 86 board voted to reinstate football, wrestling, swimming, water polo and the cheerleading teams April 3.

Voters approved a $140 million bond referendum April 2, opening the door for the board vote that ended a nearly four-month saga that enveloped the community.

“We’re glad that everything is back,” Jones said. “From an athletic director perspective, it’s now about scheduling. I solidified our Week 1 game against Naperville Central. I’m now finishing up the rest of the schedule and working on the winter schedule for girls and boys swimming.

“There were a lot of people affected by this. It’s a relief. It was a lot of stress, especially for next year’s seniors from the standpoint of not knowing if they were going to have a season and the students wanting to know what was going on.”

Garrett, who was named the West Suburban Gold Offensive Player of the Year in 2018, said he was worried about not playing with his longtime friends next season.

Garrett passed for 961 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 965 yards and 12 scores last season. He managed to help keep his teammates positive by getting together for weightlifting sessions. His football future – at Hinsdale South and in college – was at stake.

“I was absolutely ecstatic to hear the news,’ Garrett said. “It definitely deprived me of sleep at night, and I’m sure the guys, too. … I had faith, but don’t get me wrong, just knowing the possibilities and how quiet the situation went for awhile, that left me worried. But we stayed strong together and did everything we could in our best interest.”

Although all the programs that were on the cutting block were reinstated, Hinsdale Central’s football program suffered a big blow when varsity coach Dan Hartman decided to take the head coaching position at Lyons.

Jones said he did an internal posting for the varsity football job on April 4.

“We have some internal coaches who are very qualified and interested in the job,” Jones said. “We also have some assistant coaching positions open.”

Junior wide receiver Braden Contreras, a first-team West Suburban Silver all-conference selection, said he was “very grateful for the people that made this win possible.”

He’s excited to play his senior season for Hinsdale Central, but called losing his coach a negative part. 

“It stings losing a guy that has been here and made my junior year a lot of fun,” he said. “But it’s understandable. I would do the same thing in his situation. It’s going to be a very exciting game playing them next year, but little weird seeing him on the opposing sideline.”

Hinsdale South sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Jaylon Smith called the reinstatement of the football program a blessing and a motivational chip for next season.

“For a while, I thought it would get cut. Just going through many neighborhoods in the area, you would see ‘Vote No, D86 could do better’ signs,’” he said. “But the referendum being passed giving us football back was a bunch of relief off my back. … We’re coming back stronger than ever this year because of what could have been taken from us.”

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