What is next for Illiana Christian athletics?

On Thursday it was announced that the school will look to build a new campus in Lake County, Ind. The move will take a few years, but the school is getting ready for it.

Illiana athletic director Lance Davids last week chose not to put the cart before the horse, but now says school officials are looking into many things. The first is gaining membership into the Indiana High School Athletic Association, which has a four-year wait period before a school can play in the postseason.

My colleague Steve Hanlon wrote on March 21: "... That's a lot of student-athletes who would go to high school and never have a chance to play in a sectional."

Indiana goes sectional then regional instead of regional then sectional, but that is not the only change. Davids said school principal Peter Boonstra has been in contact with the IHSAA officials about a waiver to shorten the four-year postseason wait. So can Illiana Christian apply now and hope for the best?

Illinois High School Association media relations director Matt Troha, like his Indiana counterpart and Crown Point native Jason Wille, said this has never happened before. Troha said that a school can be a member of the IHSA and petition to join another organization if it is a member of the Illinois State Board of Education, which Illiana is.

"We will be a little more proactive in looking at future opponents and what conference we can join," Davids said. "We still don't have the money and it all comes down to that. Once we start (building), it will take another 18 months before the school would be ready."

The move  will be a boost for the track teams that have no on-campus track, and both soccer programs, which use Paarlberg park in South Holland.

There are other changes they have to be aware of. In basketball, Indiana gives a choice of either 20 games or 18 games and one tournament. Illinois allows the same number of games, but two tournaments. The boys and girls teams were in two tournaments, so both would have to drop either a Thanksgiving or Christmas tournament. The Vikings could still keep some Illinois rivalries.

There are also travel restrictions. On Thursday, Wille said a school cannot travel more than 600 miles round trip from any part of the state's borders. That rules out the baseball team's trip to Florida every other year.

There is also a success multiplier, similar to what Illinois does when a nonboundaried school has some postseason success. It bumps them up a class.

Also, girls soccer is a fall sport in Indiana and Illiana has three or four girls who are soccer players and cross country runners. Those kids may have to choose a sport. Boys golf is a spring sport in Indiana, meaning golfers will not be able to play baseball. There is no IHSAA boys volleyball in Indiana or competitive cheerleading. The boys cross country team was second in Class 2A, but cross country, track and wrestling are single-class sports in Indiana.

"We are aware of that, and you just have to adjust," Davids said. "We know in some sports with one class we will be competing with bigger schools, but being in the Metro Suburban, we compete against bigger schools and that has helped us."

Davids said there are no immediate plans to add football. "It has been brought up, but we would like to compete with the same sports we have," he said.

What will not change is the purpose of the school and that is to educate young Christian men and women.

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This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at mike.nieto@nwi.com.


Sports copy editor

Jim is a copy editor for The Times who works out of Valparaiso. A South Central High School (1984) and Ball State ('89) grad, he’s covered preps most of his career. He received the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association’s Media Award in 1997.