Bement approves co-op extensions with Cerro Gordo

Without discussion, the Bement school board unanimously approved six cooperative sports contracts with the Cerro Gordo school district at a special meeting on April 25.

The co-op contract renewals had dominated conversation at a Bement meeting two weeks earlier, with board members wanting more negotiations with Cerro Gordo before approving it.

But additional talks did not materialize, and Cerro Gordo’s school board on April 18 approved the proposal that had come from a committee made up of administrators and school board members from each district.

About 15 Bement High School students showed up to the school district’s board meeting last week, with a pair of students speaking in favor of the co-ops but suggesting some changes.

One involved combining forces for volleyball, one of the only high school sports that is not co-opped.

“We do need to co-op, because right now there’s only 12 girls signed up and there was an open gym the other day and only five girls showed up,” said Bement High School student Hannah Foran, a multi-sport athlete. “With those numbers you can’t even get better because there’s no one to scrimmage against, there’s no one to build your team up.”

“With Cerro Gordo, there would be so much more of an opportunity to get better,” she continued. “There could be a freshman team so the younger girls got more opportunity to play, and that could grow into a good varsity team.”

Foran said the Bement junior varsity spikers managed just one win last season, and feels that “if we co-opped we’d have a better change of winning.”

Football and track athlete Dylan Upton also suggested moving some cooperative team practices to Bement to prevent a glut on facilities at Cerro Gordo, especially with a construction project underway in that southern Piatt County school district.

“It makes it really hard for busing and practices,” he said. “For some of the sports we’d like half the practices to be in each town so that we can use both facilities. But at the same time we don’t want everyone to be in town at the same time. Like when they have baseball, softball, girls track, boys track all in Cerro Gordo, the bus sucks and there’s no room for us. And there’s no facilities here being used, while people are being kicked out of gyms over there.”

Another issue Upton said needs to be resolved is the discrepancy caused by different dismissal times.

“They get out at 2:56 and we get out at 3:15, that just makes things a lot harder to schedule practices and games. Like football, we show up and they’re ready to go. For basketball for girls, when we show up they’ve already been practicing for 40 minutes. That’s just not fair,” he added.

He also felt coaches of CGB sports should have keys to facilities in both districts for smoother starts to practices.

The Bement school board had asked for a 50-50 split in hosting co-op contests, a change from the current two-thirds/one-third split. Cerro Gordo turned down the change.

Some transportation issues were addressed in the new contract, most notably for busing students to practices. Also, the hosting of post-season athletic banquets will be traded off between the two communities.

The six cooperative agreements approved are for football, boys basketball, girls basketball, softball, baseball and boys and girls track squads. They now need approval by the Little Okaw Valley Conference and Illinois High School Association before being officially in place for this fall.

The boys basketball co-op will be up in the fall of 2019.

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