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home : news : local   October 22, 2016

5/14/2012 9:14:00 AM
L-P students rally in support of coaches

More than 30 people gathered outside La Salle-Peru Township High School on Monday morning to show support for L-P coaches Bill Booker and Jake Burke.NewsTribune photo/Matthew Baker
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More than 30 people gathered outside La Salle-Peru Township High School on Monday morning to show support for L-P coaches Bill Booker and Jake Burke.

NewsTribune photo/Matthew Baker
Kevin Chlum
Sports Editor

More than 30 people gathered outside La Salle-Peru Township High School this morning to show support for baseball coach Bill Booker and boys track and field coach Jake Burke.
According to Booker’s son Cody, both coaches have been told by superintendent Steven Wrobleski that they will not be recommended to be rehired to coach next school year.
Wrobleski said he could not comment on personnel issues so he could not confirm the coaches would not be recommended.
“The baseball team was in agreement that this needed to be done and these two guys needed to be stuck up for,” said Cody Booker, a senior catcher on the baseball team. “These two have meant a lot to a lot of kids at L-P. There’s a lot of people who just don’t realize how much they put into their jobs.”
The crowd included some baseball players and track and field athletes, L-P students and at least one student from another local high school.
“The school board and superintendent Wrobleski are saying his treatment of players isn’t good when they are only hearing from two or three players. It’s not really from everybody who has been with them. Both of them. Not just Booker,” L-P junior baseball player Bret Stom said. “We think as baseball players that Booker treats us great. We’re 23-6 and he’s like our father of our family. We think he’s being hosed with what’s happening.
“He teaches us lessons not only on the baseball field, but he teaches us life lessons that we’re going to use 20-30 years down the road. … He’s teaching us to be leaders and to communicate — stuff like that we’re going to use in the work force and we’re going to use in life.”
Senior baseball player Lizandro Sanchez agreed.
“They’re hard-nosed, they’re hard working and throughout my four years — and even longer with coach Booker because I’ve known him since I was a child — they’ve taught us valuable lessons of hard work and dedication.”
The students, who held signs such as “Backing Burke and Booker: It’s what’s right” and got passing motorists to honk, said they gathered because they have not had an opportunity to express their side to the administration or school board.
“There have been complaints of them being rough, and that’s not true,” Sanchez said. “The administration is trying to cover their butts by deciding not to rehire them instead of seeing both sides and seeing how integral both of them are to this school.
“From what I heard, the board was able to interview whoever they wanted and they interviewed families of those who had complaints, which isn’t fair because they don’t spend the most time with coach Booker and coach Burke. We spend the most time with them and they didn’t interview us.”
Wrobleski said there have been no issues with the demonstrators.
“It’s a demonstration of free speech. It’s a constitutional right and you have to celebrate that,” Wrobleski said. “They have every right to be out there as long as they demonstrate peaceably. We have not had any issue with it at all thus far today."
Monday’s protest is the second effort made by the baseball team to have their voices heard.
After Friday’s games against Geneseo, the team went to Wrobleski’s house to discuss the issue with him. According to Sanchez, team members left their jerseys at his door and told Wrobleski if they didn’t have their coach there was no reason to play.
Booker is in his 20th season as L-P’s baseball coach. He has more than 350 victories, including a 23-6 record this season, and has led the team to three sectional championships and a fourth-place finish in the state in 2009.
Booker and Burke also serve as assistant football coaches.
The school board meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The agenda does not specifically say anything about Booker and Burke, but does list personnel decisions under new business.

Kevin Chlum can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 139, or at

Related Stories:
• Booker, Burke voted out as L-P coaches (video)

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