Illinois high school student athletes pick up jobs to earn cash for college as scholarship hopes dwindle

HARVEY, Ill. (WLS) -- As the pandemic has put student athletes on the sidelines, some of them have picked up jobs to earn cash for college because their chances to earn scholarships have been kicked to the curb.

Jonny Rodriguez is getting pretty good at fixing flat tires. He's working at the J.R. Tire Shop about five hours a day after school.

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The decision is in conflict with guidance released by the governor's office Tuesday that deems basketball a high-risk sport and that teams should not compete.



He's the valedictorian of his class at Thornton Township High School and also a star player on the school's soccer team. But with soccer on hold, he's got a little extra time on his hands these days.

"Now that there's no practices going on, no games or none of that, I just use that time to come and work now," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez plans to go to college next year and was hoping to have help paying for it with a soccer scholarship. He's one of a number of high school athletes who are out of luck for playing their fall sport this year.

"A big piece of their youth is being robbed from them," said Adrian Calleros, a soccer coach at Solorio High School.

Solorio High School senior Yadira Ortiz is a star on her school's soccer team. But they won't be giving out any trophies this season, so she is also working after school to help her family out and save money for college.

"My dream was to play college soccer, but I don't know if I'm going to have that opportunity," Ortiz said.

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Some high school athletes are once again bringing their fight to the governor's door, calling on him to loosen restrictions and let them play.



Some high school athletes have been able to continue playing their sport at the club level or by moving to another state, allowing them to get attention from college recruiters. But for many others, including Rodriguez, that's not an option.

"The college recruiters are not gonna wait on IIlinois kids to be able to play so that they can get footage, so that they can go watch them," Rodriguez said. "They're going to go where they are able to see kids play."

Many Illinois high school students are still hoping their fall sports can be played in winter. While they wait for confirmation on that, it's still likely too late for many college recruiters.
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