For the first time since shots were fired near their home field, Hope Academy will play a football game at Altgeld Park on Friday night as they host Orr in playoff action.
After the shooting incident, two different teams forfeited games against Hope, but the school isn’t harboring any ill will after those decisions were made.
“We’ve really tried to move past it,” Hope Academy head coach Matt Kelley said. “We understand that schools made a decision. There’s no hard feelings. Now we have the opportunity to play at home and in a game that really has a lot of meaning in the state playoffs.
During a September game between Hope Academy and Providence, shots were fired at the corner of South Washtenaw Avenue and West Harrison Street. Photos showed the two teams laying on the field, but the game ultimately was finished.
After the incident, two teams forfeited games against Hope Academy, as Wheaton’s St. Francis High School and Kankakee’s Bishop McNamara both opted not to travel to the city due to safety concerns.
Hope Academy decided to treat the forfeits as a chance to draw their team closer together, and they feel that the controversy that erupted over the incidents has strengthened their bonds.
“I think if you let the guys work together, play together, it shows the community that we can stick together,” Denzel Robinson said. “It’s better to go ahead with the game.”
Safety has been a priority for the school and the city in the aftermath of the shooting, as extra plain clothes and uniformed officers will be on patrol around the park.
“Sometimes it’s good to go through obstacles to experience good things,” Najee Harris said. “Playing on our home field against a team that’s from our neighborhood feels good.”
Published at 3:52 PM CDT on Oct 27, 2017 | Updated 9 minutes ago