MIKE NIETO: Crucial time for St. Francis de Sales athletics

2012-12-13T19:00:00Z 2014-04-24T22:58:11Z MIKE NIETO: Crucial time for St. Francis de Sales athleticsMike Nieto Prep Beat nwitimes.com
December 13, 2012 7:00 pm  • 

You wonder what direction the St. Francis de sales athletic program is going in.

You wonder if the administration knows. With athletic director Rich Maggio "resigning" on Dec. 7, the school must search for its fourth athletic director in the last 5 1/2 years.

Maggio took the high road and did not blast his prep alma mater. The fact he resigned and left so quickly, he didn't even let the door hit him and knock him down the stairs of his second-floor office and onto South Ewing Avenue, tells me that someone or some group forced him to step down.

Rich would never just leave. He said he would help the school through the semester, but in the same breath said he was done that day.

Principal Mary Kay Ramirez said a committee would help run the athletic department, with everyone pitching in. That is fine and I know several of the teachers and coaches at St. Francis and I know they will do their best to make sure everything is fine.

But everything is not fine.This does not sit well with alumni because Rich Maggio was "one of them." He was involved in the Hegewisch Little League and Babe Ruth baseball. He went out and tried to get alumni and East Siders and Hegewisch people to give St. Francis de Sales another chance and send their sons and daughters there. The East Side Catholic school is losing kids to Mount Carmel, Marian Catholic, Bishop Noll, De La Salle and Seton Academy.

Several have transferred to nearby Washington High School and with the tough economic times in a part of the city which is tied to manufacturing, some just can't afford the $7,000-a-year tuition, which is what is listed on the school's website.

The school has its entrance exam on Jan. 12 and it needs to get a lot of eighth graders to take the exam. The school has listed 199 students on the Illinois High School Association's website.

President Ray Nedohon and those who run the school need to decide what kind of athletic department they want to have. A small, private school can be successful in athletics and still keep the good academic tradition that St. Francis de Sales has. Don't forget, someone has to get those spring sports contracts and officials done soon. Nothing like having a bus not show up to pick up a team for a road game or umpires not showing up to a baseball game.

Maggio was involved with his coaches and did a lot to market the school. He was proud to be a graduate and a faculty member.

The key to a private school is to get tuition-paying students in the desks.That keeps the doors open.

Whoever the new athletic director is, he or she will be part public relations and marketing guru as well. The person will have to reach out to the communities that feed into the school and there are not that many outside of Chicago. The people who send their children there are making a financial sacrifice, but for a good reason.

Whoever this person is, this is a key hire. Of course, Maggio fit the above description and look where it got him.

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

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