Walter Payton College Prep and Jones College Prep, two magnets in the Chicago Public Schools system, historically struggled to field golf teams due to a lack of participation. In order to give the students who did want to play a chance at competition, Payton and Jones fused squads together, and in 2015 the women's co-op won the city tournament by a whopping 33 strokes. Because of their dominance, the CPS dismantled the team, forcing both schools to try and survive on their own.
Sadly, Payton and Jones face an uncertain future. Though the co-op was allowed to compete this season, the schools were split for the city tournament, each with just four players on their rosters. Most high schools dress six competitors per match.
Complicating the issue is a ruling that the Payton-Jones men's team can continue, as their performance has not been as authoritative.
"We're not trying to create a powerhouse; we're trying to put kids into a place where they can have a degree of competitive quality," Timothy Devine, principal at Walter Payton, said to the Chicago Tribune. "The equivalent (to a team of four golfers) would be trying to run a football program with 11 players. It's not smart, but technically you could do that."
According to Jones parent Dan Mark, it's not as simple as splitting the teams up; Jones will now have to find a coach, new uniforms and set up a fundraising campaign. Moreover, the new format could hamper the students' athletic futures.
"Do we want to do intramural sports, or do we want to go to state and let the girls have a chance to get a scholarship?" Mark inquired.
Raquel Simpson, a 14-year-old Payton student, says she doesn't think her school's team will last. She also testified to the Tribune that being on the co-op has been a rewarding experience.
"I hope people get the message and become aware we might be split up," she said. "We should stay together as a team, try to win some titles and just be united as women in sports."
A CPS spokesperson told the Tribune that they believe each school will have enough students to participate in 2017, and that the lower numbers offer more opportunities for the athletes.