by Calvin Holmes
The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) is not exactly known for its sports teams.
As the first public arts school in Chicago, students are held to an artistic standard and are praised for overall diversity, and not necessarily athletic prowess. People who encounter ChiArts generally think, “What an amazing dance conservatory”; not, “What an amazing sports school.” But with the new cultivating of a school basketball club, that might all change.
Gabriel Warner, a math teacher at ChiArts who also coaches the basketball club, said that it’s unlikely that ChiArts will ever have a real basketball team. He said the hard part of would be getting a facility to practice and play in. He also added that time would be an issue for most advisors and players.
Nevertheless, there has been an influx of students going to basketball club on Mondays and Thursdays. In general, students say they’d love to have an official team. Around 15 students — males and females — arrive at 1 p.m. — before their leaders even get there. Warner and co-coach math teacher Seamus Foley instruct and lead the practice.
The creative writing conservatory requires students to sit in the same room at a chair for three whole hours with very spare physical activity. It’s similar for visual artists and some music students. This makes activity all the more important.
One of the challenges to starting a basketball team is ChiArts’ extremely long school day, which lasts from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Teachers are unlikely to stay that late for basketball.
Another roadblock is the demands of a huge workload, which results from having conservatory and academic classes.
Warner’s main concern is that the time commitment would be too much for the kids to handle. He also brought up the idea of curating an intramural schedule within the school that teams could follow. At least that would offer more organization.
Though it is unlikely for ChiArts to have a real basketball team, Warner said he’d think about it.
“I would consider it, but I fear it would be nearly impossible to have enough time to actually create a competitive team.” He added, “We would need to practice at least two hours a day every day during the week and some weekends, and I don’t think our students have that amount of hours available in their schedule. A better option would be to set up an intramural schedule and teams could play on a regular basis.”
But, Warner said, he still likes working with the kids to improve their game.
“It is fun to see the improvement that so many players have made since we first started the club last year, both individually and in team play,” Warner said.