March 3rd, 2017
(6-24-17) – March 3rd was a big day for Rockford’s Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy when the school announced they would be starting a football team (yes, 11 man football) and joining the Northeastern Athletic Conference.
For the past two seasons, OLSHA was in a co-op program with Warren of the NUIC, during that time the Warriors made a trip to the IHSA state playoffs.
So why is it such a big deal? OLSHA has an IHSA student count of 18 TOTAL students.
On its web site it describes the school this way –
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy is a non-diocesan, 501(c)(3) non-profit, private school teaching the foundation of a classical academic curriculum from grades 5 – 12, administered and staffed by Catholic laymen and incorporated under the laws of Illinois. Independent of the Diocese of Rockford, the school is not an agency of and is in no way connected or affiliated with the Diocese of Rockford; however, as faithful, practicing Catholics, the school trustees, administrators and full-time teachers joyfully sign an oath of fidelity to the Magisterium and a profession of faith to the Catholic Church.
So how does OLSHA field an 11 man football team this year? That’s a good question.
OLSHA Athletic Director Matt Adas:
We have offered football to our students the past two years while in a co-op with Warren HS; this year we were given the opportunity to join the Northeastern Athletic Conf. to play football and to expand to other sports as our enrollment increased. This is historic for two reasons, we are the smallest school in the IHSA and this is the first time we have been recognized to be able to compete as our own entity in conference sports! We have aspirations of doing well despite our size, 30 students, of which nearly half will be on the team and proving that we can compete. (Think Hebron basketball team that won state in 1952 with enrollment of 98)
We have a great group of dedicated, strong-willed and hard working athletes at all grade levels. As a Catholic school we pride ourselves as having students with strong morals, minds and bodies. Having chosen our mascot name as the ‘Guardians’ we intend to display a dedication to guard and defend our faith and a reputation of tenacity, perseverance and winning!
We are a start-up team that has been resourceful in securing equipment, practice and game facilities and transportation. We have not been deterred from seeking contests with bigger more successful schools to challenge our athletes.
This past week the IHSA released member schools football schedules.
The new program practices will be held at the Riverdahl School located near OLSHA.
The addition of the Knights is a key for the NAC, with six members the conference qualifies its champion to compete in the season-ending IHSA tournament.
This past year has been a ‘soap-opera’ year for the NAC.
Alden-Hebron, Elgin Westminster Christian, Rockford Christian Life, will play in an eight man football league, Chicago Hope Academy joined Chicago’s Catholic League and Luther North announced it would close its doors June 1st.
That left the remaining NAC members scrambling to fill its 2017 schedule, the addition of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy helped in filling those open dates. In a recent mywebtimes.com story, the future of the NAC could see the addition of two new members in the future, Walther Lutheran and Rockford Christian.
Yesterday on the schools Facebook page it was announced that Christopher Kane would be the new school CEO. Kane is a practicing attorney ( general practice and litigation law) in Chicago and Barrington for the past 35 years. Kane will be responsible for all school matters, including development and enrollment. His resume includes being a professor of Business Law and Advanced Business Law to college undergraduate and graduate students.
How does Kane see the future for the school-
“A 100% graduation rate, a 100% college acceptance rate, and one of the highest average ACT scores in the state at 27.9, absolute personal student attention in class sizes of 5 to 10 students. What we offer at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy needs to be better known in the local community, and that’s my job.”
The future also seems to be adding and upgrading athletics at the school as an important part of the school’s future.