STEVE HANLON: What's going on down by the River?

2014-06-05T19:30:00Z 2014-09-09T23:09:15Z STEVE HANLON: What's going on down by the River?Steve Hanlon Prep Beat
June 05, 2014 7:30 pm  • 

Just when you think you can't take any more nonsense, you hear a knock on your door. Thud. Thud.

The same thing keeps driving this old baller to drink (buttermilk). Bean counters are killing the United States of America and the middle class. You can't take a breath or someone else will come after another penny, with fangs.

The latest example is going on at River Forest High School. Dennis Leonard, who has been in the district for 39 years, was told this is his last year as a cost-saving measure.

Leonard may be one of the few athletic directors around who mows the lawn. Or paints a wall. Or empties the garbage pails. Here's the other thing he's done. He's built a very good athletic program where such a thing is difficult.

He isn't pressing his polo after a three-hour workout in the school's weight room. This guy worked his tail off.

"I've had a great time here," Leonard said Wednesday. "I just wish I could've gone out on my own terms."

He isn't alone. River Forest football coach Jeff Bean was given a letter of Reduction in Force. So he's done. He was 21-49 in eight years at the school. They didn't often beat the monsters but they were very competitive most of the time.

On Oct. 11,  River beat Whiting 30-20. That was a huge upset and an example of what Bean's coaching did for the Ingots.

"That game was one of the biggest thrills I had being here," Leonard said. "Jeff did a great job here."

But now, his teaching position was eliminated. And so, too, is the chance of the school being good in much else, especially with Leonard gone.

But it doesn't end here. River's baseball coach, Mark Zimmerlee, is leaving. Volleyball coach Patty Sparks is gone. They might be looking for volunteers to reschedule games should we have a winter next year like this past one.

River Forest's athletics are in deep trouble. If you get rid of good people to save a nickle, in time, there will be nothing left worth having.

Remember when the state lied to us all and said that legalizing gambling would help save the schools? Remember when school superintendents made a little more than the principals, who only made a little more than the teachers?

Now, like in American business, the salaries are off the charts and the Average Joes suffer. Coach Bean recently had a son. He now doesn't have a job, and in this current climate of Indiana education it could be difficult to find one.

Leonard graduated from River Forest in 1971. He got the bug for high school sports watching the Ingots boys basketball teams of the mid 1960s. He coached many sports at his school and always did a great job hosting events.

Now, he's gone and so to is any hope of Ingot success in athletics.

All we have left is the voting booth. Get inspired and vote out the people who making horrible mistakes locally and around Indiana with decisions like this.

If you want to know who they are they're the ones driving a Lamborghini.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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