by Megan Jones, Editor-in-Chief
Gridiron Alliance, local advocates who reach out to paralyzed high school athletes, asked District 214 to consider a paid insurance policy that would cover student athletics in case of “catastrophic” accidents. The discussion arose at the school board meeting on Thursday, Oct. 18.
“The district should look into more insurance policies because there are many families who may not have insurance at Wheeling, and it would be nice to have more protection at athletic events,” Chad Mikosz, senior, said.
District 214 already offers optional student athletic insurance for in school and out of school hours. A special policy stands for football players that range from $30 to $400 premiums. The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) currently covers insurance during state championships. Over 95 percent of high schools in Illinois lack insurance plans.
Dr. Dave Schuler, superintendent, plans to look into the costs of additional insurance. A wait was placed on researching due to the new health bill coming into effect by President Barack Obama. Obama’s new Affordable Care Policy will affect prices in the next 12 to 18 months.
According to Mikosz, this would help take the weight of medical bills off a lot of people. He has seen students not participate in athletics because of the risk of not having insurance.
The lack of insurance has affected WHS specifically as Sean Murillo, ‘11 graduate, did not participate in football due to a health condition pertaining to his lung.
“My father had also lost his job the past year, and we hadn’t had insurance to where if I had gotten hurt I could be covered,” Murillo said.
He instead acted as a manager for the team his senior year.
“I think that if a student involved in athletics is not covered on a parent’s insurance that in their registration a small fee could be paid to where the school could offer a very basic form of coverage so that the student could still participate,” Murillo said.
According to Murillo, given insurance, he would have taken the chance to play in a heartbeat.
“Even though I still got allowed to be a part of the team, it killed to not be able to practice with my friends, let alone play,” Murillo said.
The request for D214 insurance was inspired by an accident 13 years ago at Rolling Meadows High School involving Rob Komosa, football player. He was injured during a practice after crashing into a fence post and left paralyzed from the neck down.
Komosa was awarded with a $12.5 million settlement as a result of his lawsuit against District 214.
Deacon Don Grossnickle, member of the Gridiron Alliance, has been an advocate of Komosa’s injury and hopes to add more safety nets for student athletes.
The Gridiron Alliance cited District 218 schools that have been covering all their students since the 1990s.
Steve Herbst, a member of the Gridiron Alliance, said that the group plans to have money for the policy drawn from gate receipts and concessions at sporting events, which would have “minimal impact” on the district’s budget.