Editor's Note: Trey Urwiler is a senior wide receiver at Batavia High School and a current Northern Illinois football recruit. Urwiler wrote an opinion essay for Friday Night Drive describing his experience attending a rally in Chicago last Saturday advocating for the full resumption of fall high school sports and football. It has been edited slightly for clarity.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as many of you know, Gov. [J.B.] Pritzker has put a halt on fall sports. [It has] completely [turned] the world of thousands of Illinois high school athletes upside down. Recently, there has been a surge from Illinois high school athletes, coaches, communities and their families to reverse Pritzker's decision and allow fall sports so that these athletes can get the opportunities they so greatly deserve.
It is hard to explain to other communities what football means to the community of Batavia because it is unlike any other. It is every kid's dream growing up in Batavia to be like the Coffey brothers, or Anthony Scaccia, or maybe even the next Quinn Urwiler.
Since elementary school, my teammates and I have worked extremely hard to get to where we are today. For the seniors, this will be their last year playing football. For the juniors and seniors fighting for scholarships, my coaches, classmates, school, and my beloved city, that is why I felt obligated to go to Saturday's rally in Chicago.
The Chicago “Let Us Play” rally, which took place at the Thompson Center, featured many spectacular speakers from all over the state. Former Chicago Bears center Olin Kreutz spoke, along with State Representative Darren Bailey. It was great hearing from those professional people and knowing that people have our backs.
Among the speakers was Myles Mooyoung, a senior football player at Kenwood Academy, a CPS school. When Myles was speaking, I could not help but get tears in my eyes. He was desperate; you could tell how much this meant to him. Life is already hard for a lot of those Chicago Public School athletes, and the field helps them tremendously with their everyday challenges.
For most CPS athletes, an athletic scholarship is their only way into college. My heart goes out to Myles and the rest of the CPS athletes, and to everyone who is so greatly affected by this.
At the end of the rally, I looked around and saw smiles on each and every one of my teammates' faces. We made a difference, we spoke up and our voices were heard. It was truly a remarkable event. It was one of the first times that Batavia was actually on the same side as St. Charles North.
I am so proud of each and every one of my teammates and the rest of Illinois High School athletes for continuing to persevere through everything that we have been through.
As time goes on, we need to keep the pressure on, keep rallying, keep raising our voices, and stay strong, so that not only football season can happen, but so that every other sport can play as well. Let Us Play.