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Suspended players answer challenge, will return

North Chicago coach Gerald Coleman yells ref during game. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

North Chicago coach Gerald Coleman yells at a ref during the game. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 13, 2013 6:11AM



When it comes to its students, those associated with North Chicago High School have exactly the same goals as they have at every other high school in this area.

They want to teach the students important school lessons and important life lessons.

They want their students to be better young men and women when they leave the school than they were when then entered it.

And they want to put the young men and women under their charge in the best possible position to succeed upon graduation.

Sometimes, and with some students, it’s smooth sailing for all four years.

But for other students, there are bumps in the road, hills to climb, and lessons to be learned the hard way.

Five members of North Chicago’s basketball team fall into that latter category.

Suspended for a violation of school athletic policy two weeks ago, the original punishment would have resulted in three of the players being suspended for a minimum of four games and two others being suspended with no opportunity to return to active status this year.

But even after the suspensions were levied, school administrators continued to investigate/research the incident and came up with a workable plan that will get the message across to the five players who were in violation, while still giving them an opportunity to return to play the game they love:

Basketball.

As a result, when North Chicago takes the court on Tuesday night at Round Lake, four of the five suspended players will be back in uniform after having missed two games.

The fifth player — believed to be junior star JaVairius Amos-Mays — will remain out for Tuesday’s game and also will miss the North Suburban Conference Championship Game against Stevenson next week. But, he will be given the opportunity to earn the right to return to the squad for the March Madness playoffs.

North Chicago athletic director Brian Colbert expressed confidence that this decision is a fair one, and that the suspended players have fulfilled obligations that had to be met before being allowed back in uniform.

“The athletic office and coaches, along with our administration, wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing for these young men. It was a team effort that included our principal and superintendent,” Colbert said.

“We are definitely holding the young men accountable, but to their credit, they’ve taken steps to show us they take responsibility for their choices and have learned from them.”

“This has been a learning experience for them, and we’re happy with the strides they’ve made so far. Our job is to continue helping them learn and develop as young men.”

North Chicago basketball coach King Coleman was part of the decision-making group.

“It’s important that we do what is best for the future of these young men. We want them to learn from their choices, but at the same time it’s not our intention to ruin their careers. They have goals and aspirations, and learning to strive and achieve them in a responsible way is part of growing as young men too.”

The two games North Chicago (23-2) played without the five players ­— including key reserves Joseph Thomas and Travaris Knox — were two of the team’s three worst games of the season.

“The situation has definitely affected the whole team, both the players and the coaches. With all the kids we brought up to varsity and the way we’ve had to move players around, it definitely had an affect on how we’ve played. This group has been together since the summer, and all of a sudden five or our players aren’t there,” Coleman said. “ It’s like missing part of our family. Now that we’ve come to a resolution, it’s a weight off of everybody’s shoulders.”

North Chicago is 23-2 on the season.



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