Church League basketball cancels season

St. John of the cross school

St. John of the cross school

Robert Sullivan, Sports Editor

As a swimmer with competition season in the winter, Jack Whelton ‘21 was never able to play school basketball. Instead, he chose to join a recreational team through Saint John of the Cross Parish. What ensued were three years best described as electric, gritty basketball, Whelton said. 

Unfortunately for Whelton’s Saint John of the Cross team as well as the 70 other teams in the league, which emcompasses both genders and all high school grade levels, Church League has been cancelled for the 2020-2021 season amid COVID-19 concerns. 

“I feel devastated,” Whelton said. “Church League meant the absolute world to me. It was an escape from school, work, and responsibilities. And I feel confident that the rest of the people in this community who were involved would say the exact same.” 

The announcement cancelling the season was released Sept. 2 by Saint John of the Cross Youth Minister Katie Pruitt. Typically by early September, preparations for the season begin. 

The preparations could not be made this year as some of the churches in the league still are not open and have very limited staff, activities and available space due to the COVID-19 shutdown, Pruitt said. 

“I know that the boys will be very upset,” she said. “The Church League has always been a great highlight of the year for many of these kids, offering them good competition, fellowship with friends and a sports outlet for many who are not able to play basketball for their high school.”

Despite the announcement, Pruitt acknowledges that the state of pandemic is constantly changing and there is a potential for a postponed season which could begin around February. The decision would depend on the new guidelines and available space of the churches, Pruitt said. The Chicago Arch Diocese, which includes only the Catholic churches in the Church League, will review their guidelines in December.

Without recreational basketball this year, teens in the community will not be able to resolve the long standing arguments over team superiority, Whelton said.

“I just wish SJC Pink would’ve had the chance to mop the floor with Notre Dame to show the rest of the world their championship sophomore year was, at best, a fluke,” he said. “R.I.P. the homie Church League.”