By: Eric Van Dril   |   Aug. 24, 2017

Unfortunately, The Public League won’t continue this high-school season.

I launched an online business called Contact College Coaches in April, and I’ve decided to put my full effort and energy into growing it. Balancing this site and Contact College Coaches, which sells databases of college coaches’ contact information that help athletes get recruited, just isn’t possible.

The decision to put The Public League on an indefinite (possibly permanent) hiatus was a difficult one to make, and it’s really started to set in on the eve of the high-school football season. But I’m so thankful to have been able to write for a sizable, passionate audience, and the experience of covering football and basketball in Chicago was great. Truly.

I amassed a multitude of memories during the 2016-17 season. There were thrilling games and outstanding performances. There were so many unforgettable stories that I had the opportunity to tell. As I sit at my computer and type this, I can think of at least 20 stories that are distinctly etched in my memory. Those stories — examples of perseverance, hard-work, heartbreak, tragedy and triumph — will stick with me for a long, long time.

There are two other things that will also stick with me forever.

The first is all of the different parts of Chicago that I had the opportunity to see — places I likely wouldn’t have under any other circumstance. Places like Stagg Stadium on 74th street, with the train tracks running right alongside it, and beautiful Winnemac Stadium on the North Side. Places like Simeon, where NBA players worked tirelessly before stepping onto the national stage, and Lane Tech with its gorgeous murals lining the hallways as you walk toward the school’s gymnasium.

The second thing that will stick with me forever is the people I met.

Launching this site allowed me to witness a side of Chicago that many don’t see, or even hear about. Stories of people doing positive things in their neighborhoods often get ignored, especially in a city with so many examples of violence, dysfunction and tragedy.

But I saw, and met, a countless number of people who care about being a positive presence, and then back that up by doing things that can change lives.

I met high-school basketball coaches willing to sacrifice their evenings in order to unlock their school’s gym so one of their players can work out. I saw high-school football coaches do whatever it takes to get as many of their players to college as possible. I saw parents who are always there, supporting their children. I saw security guards dedicated to keeping everybody safe. I saw student-athletes grow into leaders, overcome adversity and demonstrate tremendous poise — even when I asked them tough questions after a loss, or after something tragic had happened in their lives.

I saw a lot of games during my year covering Chicago Public League football and basketball. But games, ultimately, are just games. To me, it was the people and the places that I’ll remember the most.

Thank you for reading.