Fremd fields tough choices as football approaches
High school football is scheduled to start in just 16 days, with practices set to begin on Aug. 6. Teams will be gathering at their regular practice fields ready to open their 2018 campaign.
Except at Fremd.
The Vikings are a team without a permanent practice field. It also turns out, they are without a home field, for at least their first home game of the season.
Fremd's practice fields, which are located behind the school off Quentin Road, have been under construction for over a year. They are putting the finishing touches on those fields, but there is no firm date when they can be used for practice.
The team could practice on the game field that had turf installed 10 years ago. That's where they usually practice.
But the turf there was deemed unsafe and is currently being replaced, and that work is ongoing. No only will the competition field be unvailable for the first practice of the season, there is doubt it will be completed in time for the team's home opener Aug. 31 against Hersey.
That game has already been scheduled to be played on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Palatine High School.
Fremd coach Lou Sponsel says that his main concern is where his team will practice until the turf field is ready, which is expected to be sometime in September.
'I'll go in and talk to them next week," Sponsel said. "I think (Fremd athletic director) David (Dick) is trying to make preparations, but what that is I don't know."
For their summer practices, Fremd has been taking a bus to and from their school to Palatine each day. This past week, the Vikings ended summer training with a trip to Illinois Wesleyan.
"It has been tough," Sponsel said. "But the kids have been making do. They jump on a bus every day at 6:30. The kids and their families have been awesome. They have a way to get it done. If anything it has made us more resilient and more appreciative."
The option to practice at Palatine is not available once regular season practice begins on Aug. 5th.
District 211 athletic director Eric Wenckowski says work is progressing on schedule in the stadium. That effort began back in late May, three days after the conclusion on the high school track season.
"Things are going on schedule," Wenckowski said. "We buffered in some time. We have been looking at this and planning for it. We knew that potentially that we may not being playing our first home game at Fremd."
Wenckowski said that there were delays on the stadium project due to the success of Fremd's track team.
"We held off on the Fremd track project so that the Fremd team could complete its season," Wenckowski said. "We are trying to take everything into account. We have been as up front as possible."
The stadium at Fremd was having its track and end zone areas being asphalted on Thursday. Fremd's social media page tweeted out for the first time on Wednesday night, pictures on the progress of the stadium and the ball fields.
Meanwhile at Schaumburg, also in Dist. 211, the football and track fields were also being redone. A tweet last Monday on the school's official Twitter page said that work will be completed by Sept. 1. Schaumburg's first home football game is not until Sept. 14.
Wenckowski said the work continues at Fremd.
"There is a new practice field on the South end of the school that is growing now," Wenckowski. "We don't know when that will be ready. When we made the decision to go from sod to grass, we knew might not have access to that field this fall. We are hoping, too."
Wenckowski said the project ran into some difficulties due to wet weather last summer.
It forced them to build a retention area under the field and then mix dirt with sand for the topsoil. Then there was seeding and planting of grass.
That field, which will be located between the rebuilt softball field and rebuilt baseball field, was being measured for the outline of a football field on Thursday. The grass was also being cut, but there is no timetable on when the Vikings can use it.
"The last thing we want to do, after we put all this time and effort and energies into creating these state-of-the-art fields and great draining fields," said Wenckowski, "is to go out there and rush out there, just so we could get practice on them."