Chicago Public Schools softball team forced to forfeit quarterfinal game for lack of school buses

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Like many in our area, the Hancock College Prep Soaring Eagles softball team has been impacted all season by a national school bus driver shortage. But last week they felt the sting even deeper, as they were forced to forfeit their quarterfinal city tournament game at Lincoln Park High School because Chicago Public Schools said no buses were available.

"It's been really frustrating and sad for the team because we've become so close and worked so hard this whole year," said player Alyssa Lopez.

The team requested to reschedule the game but were denied.

"It's beyond frustrating. The girls put all this work and effort into performing on the field, and it's taken away from them," said head coach Doug Barnes.

So Lopez, who was named to the CPS all-city team, took to Twitter to appeal to the district.

"It's not just this one game. It's not just Hancock. It's a lot of different schools. And it just continues to happen over and over, and people are just brushing it aside and saying it's okay," she said.

In a statement, CPS said it's "... had to make the difficult decision to prioritize transportation for academics..." and that "...The driver shortage has created some challenges for sporting events across the District, an issue that is not limited to one neighborhood."

Hancock plays again in a couple of weeks when the state regional tournament gets underway, but already the team has been told by CPS there's no guarantee a bus will be available.

Adding to the challenge, IHSA rules require special insurance for teams that carpool. Hancock is now scrambling to find approved transportation to keep their season alive.

Full statement from Chicago Public Schools

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) aims to provide all students with a high-quality and equitable education filled with opportunities to participate in athletic competitions among many other extracurricular activities. We recognize that the experiences and lessons learned on the playing field are important to a well-rounded educational experience and we want to make sure that every student, regardless of their school location, has access to sports and the ability to play in games. We are sorry to hear whenever a school must forfeit a game for any reason, but particularly due to a lack of transportation. We remain committed to finding ways to address the national bus driver shortage and its impact on District operations and look for ways to ensure that a transportation issue does not impact players and the outcomes of games.
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