Since the IHSA nearly a decade ago started taking its seasonal “rolling of the peas” public, I’ve always wanted to give it a try. I know Daily Herald columnist John Radke has done it, so it is not unprecedented for a sports writer.
In the past, the IHSA’s roll was held behind the closed doors of its Bloomington office. Pressure from coaches took the roll public when followers wanted to just how the pairings for the playoff bracket was determined.
On Friday, Fenwick boy water polo coach Kyle Perry did the rolling. Perry is coaching the team in his first full season since the death of his father, David, last year. David, the winningest coach in state history, lost a long battle with cancer.
The full list of the assignments based on Perry’s rolls can be found here. It includes a picture and members of the water polo team, who watched the roll.
Kyle tells the story of his pea rolling experience in his own words:
My dad had always wanted to see this done. Last week, [boys] coach Luke McGuire was in Bloomington for a swimming meeting, and he asked when they were planning on doing the spring bracket drawing. They had not set a date yet. We happened to be heading through Bloomington on our way to St. Louis this past weekend for the DeSmet Invitational. I left a message with the IHSA saying that if they were going to hold the bracket drawing on Friday between 11a.m.-1p.m., we would like to stop by to watch. I also noted in my message that I was not really 100 percent sure if Luke was being serious or just messing with me that we could watch the event and that if they did not want an audience of 18 high school boys, I understood. This just happened to be a good coincidence. Beth Sauser, IHSA Assistant Executive Director and responsible for boys and girls water polo, emailed me back saying that they’d be happy to have us around 1p.m. When we got there, we were met by Beth Sauser and Assistant Executive Directors, Scott Johnson and Matt Troha. Matt was the one who was filming the event; Scott is the guy who was checking the peas and matching the number with it’s sectional host. Beth then told me that I’d be doing the rolling of the peas! That is the team that we brought to St. Louis (we were missing a few juniors who were taking the ACT) sitting there as witnesses. That is also one of my boys (junior Matt Bresnahan) who because he has the best penmanship was chosen to write out all the results on the white board in the front of the room. It was pretty crazy. For the two water polo drawings (boys and girls) there were eight dice-like peas with a number on one side. Each number represented a sectional. All eight went into this little bottle, I shook them up, and then drew one out. This process repeated until I had drawn out all the peas. For the other sports, girls’ soccer, girls’ softball, boys’ baseball, there were only four peas involved but there were more classes so I think that is why we didn’t use all eight the whole time. The boys were very excited during the water polo portion and spent most of the rest of the time while I was drawing the rest, talking about the match-ups that I had just rolled. Again, it was really just a great coincidence – we happened to be driving through Bloomington and they let us witness and participate in the rolling of the peas. We had a great time, and we thank the IHSA for allowing us to participate in this event. I wish my dad had been there to watch the blind draw. He definitely would have gotten a kick out of it. We were almost a little late to our tournament game in St. Louis, but it was definitely worth it to see the spring bracket drawing in practice. It was even more fun to be involved and to show my team how the whole process works.