Up until last Wednesday, Judah Christian’s fall athletes didn’t know if they’d get to compete in any IHSA postseason events.
It wasn’t because of any mistake on the competitors’ behalf.
Instead, it was the result of an issue between the high school and the Illinois State Board of Education, which left Tribe athletics ineligible for IHSA playoff action.
That was until the issue was resolved Wednesday. And while Judah athletic director Adrian Perez hasn’t clarified the exact nature of the roadblock, the fact remains the Tribe won’t be missing out on any IHSA postseason play.
That was especially a concern for Tribe boys’ soccer, which wasn’t included in the Class 1A sectional seeds released on Sept. 30 because of the conflict.
Judah coach Josh Birky was upfront with his kids, noting they study in “a small enough school where they figured it out pretty quickly.”
“You don’t want to say anything too quickly because you don’t know how quickly it might be resolved or unresolved,” Birky said, “and so giving them basically no information while waiting for more information kind of makes more of a distraction.”
Birky realized there was a problem when he attempted to access IHSA seeding information and the Tribe wasn’t listed.
While acknowledging he didn’t possess full details because he doesn’t work at the high school, Birky described the problem as “a non-athletic issue” and “some kind of bureaucratic technicalities.”
Despite not knowing what the future held beyond their regular season, the Judah soccer athletes didn’t show any signs of breaking down on the pitch.
They’ve won five of their last seven matches and currently boast a 12-5-1 record.
“They did a fantastic job responding to it with some strong play,” Birky said. “They took that in stride and really went out and played well, even with all of the stuff going around.”
A message from IHSA executive director Craig Anderson to Judah officials last week detailed just how Tribe soccer would fit into regional and sectional plans.
Birky’s club was added to the Class 1A St. Thomas More Regional and given a No. 5 seed, opening with No. 11 Schlarman on Saturday in Champaign.
“The one real positive thing is, being out of it and getting back in, it’s kind of like who cares what the draw is,” Birky said. “We weren’t really playing for a seed because, ultimately, just the challenge of our sectional ... you’ve got five to eight teams in the top 30 in the state.”
That said, Birky is glad his boys — especially the seven seniors — get to follow up on last year’s 1A sectional championship match appearance.
“There’s nothing like that final playoff push that you’ve worked for for four or five months starting in June,” Birky said.