Olivet Nazarene Re-Ups Contract with Bears; No camp for Lewis

David Ridderhoff, Contributor

Olivet Nazarene University recently agreed on a new nine-year contract with the Chicago Bears to keep the team’s training camp on the school’s campus. Lewis University had been one of ONU’s biggest competitors in the fight to host the Bears’ camp.

With the nine-year deal, the Bears will have training camp at Olivet Nazarene’s football facilities through 2022. Lewis was considered the favorite to host the Bears once Olivet’s contract ran up, but Bears’ General Manager Phil Emery decided on extending the team’s time in Bourbonnais.

The question now facing Lewis is what to do with the soccer and football field located next to Dorothy Day Hall. As of now, the soccer team uses the facility, with intramural and club sports also staking a claim to the field.

“I think it is very safe to say for the near future, those fields will be used for the same purpose they are currently used,” Athletic Director John Planek said.

While it will remain a glorified soccer and intramural facility for now, the possibility for athletic growth will remain. The school could decide to add a football team to its list of athletics, but would also need to add a female sport to the offered sports to appease Title IX, the revolutionary gender equality bill passed in 1972 and regulated in 1975.

One department who might be happy the Bears won’t be coming to Lewis is the athletic medical staff.

“There are only three trainers at Lewis,” sophomore athletic training major Thomas Barkoski said. “Not nearly enough for an 80-man preseason roster.”

The team would provide its own training staff, but would benefit from the help of the on-campus staff. Plus, the team doctors would need to use the on-site facilities for minor injuries and preparing players for the day’s activities, such as taping players’ joints.

With the increase in traffic to the area, getting on and off campus would be a nearly impossible task. The training camp schedule would have interfered with multiple SOAR sessions, causing wide-scale changes to the freshman orientation process. While most events in SOAR occur in the Student Recreation and Fitness Center and Sancta Alberta Chapel, the parking and crowds would prove problematic for them in many ways.

The biggest reason to bring the Bears’ camp to Lewis would be for the economic boost the camp would provide. But with the campus’ size, people may have been driven away by the lack of parking and facilities they could use.

“It’s right by my home, but there would be nowhere for all those visitors to park. Route 53 would be a nightmare. I wouldn’t go because of it,” Barkoski said.

Perhaps it’s for the best, but come 2022, who knows?

David Ridderhoff is a junior Radio/TV broadcast major. He is the sports editor for The Flyer. He is also the general manager of Lewis’ radio station, WLRA. As an avid sports fan, he also collects hats and jerseys from a variety of sports teams.

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