The Battle of Vincennes has lived up to the nickname this season. The first Morgan Park-Simeon game was a barnburner, but the real action has been off the court. Last week the Morgan Park parents threatened that their children would boycott the second matchup, scheduled to be played at Brooks, unless the game was played at Morgan Park.
Thursday their wishes were granted, as Morgan Park Principal Carolyn Epps and Chicago Public Schools agreed that the game would take place at Morgan Park on Jan. 28.
“I’m just glad that everyone understands the importance of this game to the boys and the importance of what we were trying to do,” Morgan Park parent Tiffany Burrell said. “It just all worked out and we are just elated right now.”
The game was originally scheduled for Jan. 16, but the parents and Epps agreed to postpone the game while they worked out their differences. The two sides had a 90-minute meeting on Saturday, but no conclusion was reached as to where the game would be held.
“I’m glad it is all over and we can move forward,” Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said. “As the coach I just want to make sure all the sides are happy and on the same page.”
The parents and players remained unified throughout the struggle, but opinion seemed divided on the issue throughout the city.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinions,” Morgan Park parent Jamaara Dosunmu said. “I had some really harsh emails about bad parenting, that I was sending the wrong message. (Morgan Park sophomore Ayo Dosunmu) is the youngest of four and I’ve always expressed to all four of my children that they should stand up for what they believe, regardless of who agrees with you or not.”
The parents brought up a number of issues in the meeting with Epps. They want a new gym built at Morgan Park as well as other improvements to the school. The Morgan Park gym holds just 270 people. Brooks holds 600 more people, which is one of the reasons the CPS preferred Brooks.
“I’m proud,” Dosunmu said. “It kind of sets the tone for things to come. They gym is just the tip of the iceberg. The girls basketball team, the volleyball team, the softball team. Everyone who uses the facilities deserve them for to be up to par.”
The players found out about their parents victory right before heading into the locker room to dress for a major Red-South game against No. 7 Bogan. The Mustangs trailed in the second half before pulling out a 77-67. Star guard Charlie Moore was phenomenal, with 38 points.
“I’m excited to finally get to play Simeon here,” Morgan Park senior Jarrin Randall said. “I’m not worried about security at all. I’m sure everyone will do their jobs and the police station is right next door.”
Simeon coach Robert Smith supported the parents throughout the week and refused to take a forfeit win after talking with Irvin.
“The game should be at Morgan Park,” Smith said. “I understand what the parents were trying to do. It’s not about me or (Irvin) or the parents, it’s about the kids. (Moore) and (Simeon’s Zach Norvell) have been friends since fifth grade. They just want to be on the court to battle each other one last time before college.”
No information has been released yet about ticket sales. Smith said Simeon received 40 tickets for parents and staff. The game will be broadcast live on The Cube.
The parents say this is just the first step in what will be a continuing effort to improve Morgan Park High School.
“Our fight isn’t over yet, we are still going to fight for our children,” Burrell said.