CHICAGO (CBS) — Pancakes and a serious talk; the head of Chicago Public Schools hosted a breakfast Friday morning to get the players of Gwendolyn Brooks and Walter Payton college prep high schools past the controversy involving a cancelled baseball game.
The two teams were supposed to play a game last Saturday in the Roseland neighborhood on the South Side. However, some parents reportedly feared for their boys’ safety and refused to send their kids there after learning a bus hadn’t been scheduled.
CBS 2’s Courtney Gousman was at the breakfast, and has an inside scoop on this morning’s get-together at CPS headquarters.
Thirty-five baseball players from Brooks and Payton rushed past the cameras inside CPS headquarters Friday morning on their way to one of the most important breakfast meetings to date. The teens were accompanied by only their school principals – the coaches from the two teams weren’t allowed.
“I welcomed them to my house,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.
It has been a week in the spotlight for the students. Their game this past Saturday was cancelled amid speculation that parents from Payton had safety concerns about sending their boys to the city’s South Side for a night game.
CPS leaders said the game was missed, because a bus wasn’t scheduled to take Payton players to the game.
Asked why she organized the breakfast for the two teams, Byrd-Bennett said “I think the adults have stirred up enough stuff with the children. I think this has all been played grossly out of proportion, and I think that the children needed to come together.”
Over pancakes and sausage, the players mingled and heard from Byrd-Bennett.
“I expect the best for them. I love them and they need to put all of this behind them and play to win,” she said.
After about an hour together, it was time to head back to their schools.
“It was great! It was great,” said Payton Principal Timothy Devine.
A Brooks student commented “Good. Good. Let’s play ball,” as he boarded the school bus for the return trip.
A parent told CBS 2 that Payton players have asked their coach to step down. The parent said the request follows a string of issues surrounding Coach William Wittleder, including not ordering buses for other games.
The teams will meet again soon, this time on the field to make-up last weekend’s game.
“I’m going to try to get there. It’s a toss between my mom….seeing my mom and going to the game,” said Byrd-Bennett.
The game was originally scheduled to be made up this Saturday, but there was a scheduling conflict that moved it back another week to May 11, at 7 p.m.
Brooks will be hosting the game at its baseball field in Roseland.