Leveling the Playing Field

Youth baseball initiatives increase accessibility for underserved kids and communities

Ron Vesely, Chicago White Sox

One wouldn’t have needed to be in Wrigleyville on the early morning of November 3, 2016—when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, igniting a citywide celebration more than a century in the making—to know that Chicago loves baseball. That championship team was notable not only for its Series victory but also for the four African-American players who played major roles throughout the 2016 regular season and playoff run. In an era of a well-documented dearth of Black players in Major League Baseball (MLB) compared to previous decades, center fielder and leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler (now with the rival St. Louis Cardinals), right fielder Jason Heyward, shortstop Addison Russell, and relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. represented a noteworthy exception to a sport-wide trend. In many ways, it’s fitting that a roster with four Black players—tied with the Boston Red Sox for the most in the MLB—took part in bringing a championship back to Chicago, a city that has played such a major role in the history of baseball in the African-American community, and that is spearheading the MLB’s efforts to revive baseball participation in inner cities nationwide.

Interviews | Sports

Motivational Training Program

Fred Evans and Bob Valentine on swimming, coaching, and dreaming

Fred Evans is a swim coach at South Shore International College Prep, a selective enrollment school located on 75th and Jeffery. He has coached swimming in Chicago for over forty years, starting at Chicago State in 1974 and then moving on to Chicago South Swim Club, the first integrated swim team in the city. Before he was a coach, he swam at the collegiate level, where he became the first African American national swimming champion in the United States. His daughter Ajá Evans was an Olympic bobsledder and his son Frederick Evans III played in the NFL for nine years.

Interviews | Sports

He Was Ali

Remembering "the Champ" with Hermene Hartman

Hermene Hartman is a Chicago publisher who runs N’DIGO magazine, a publication focused on black perspectives and experiences. In 2005, Hartman honored Muhammad Ali with the lifetime achievement award at N’DIGO’s 10th annual gala. She spoke to the Weekly about how the event unfolded, what Ali meant to Chicago, his introduction to then-Senator Barack Obama, and how the Champ will be remembered in his once-hometown after his recent death.

Education | Sports

Be Aggressive! B-E Aggressive!

West Englewood high-schoolers found South Side’s first girls’ rugby team

Margaret Glazier

“People don’t think girls will come out to contact sports but girls will come out in droves for contact sports if you give them the opportunities.”

Housing | Sports

It Takes a Tennis Village

During redevelopment, uncertainties persist about the use of former public housing land

To call XS Tennis Village, a 112,000 square foot, $9.8 million facility to be opened on the corner of 54th and State in Washington Park, simply a tennis center would be shortsighted. It’s clear from XS Tennis and Educational Foundation’s mission for the village, which will break ground this year, that the educational component of the name is just as important as the tennis. Continue reading

Music | Pilsen | Sports

Futbol Punks

Chitown Futbol does it all

On Saturday night, there’s a ten-foot Christmas tree lighting up the lobby of ChiTown Futbol. Packs of teenagers carrying soccer gear pour out of cars and into the stadium, a repurposed industrial building at the end of a quiet block off Cermak Avenue. The street dead-ends just past the parking area, giving way to beached shipping containers and one of the Chicago River’s freightloading channels. Continue reading


Extending the Track

Forty-six years ago at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos sped down the 200-meter track, winning gold and bronze for America with times of 19.83 and 20.1 seconds, respectively. At the podium after the race, Smith and Carlos lowered their heads and raised their fists.


For the Kids

A Blackhawks hockey clinic in Hyde Park



Snow falls fast over the ice rink on the Midway Plaisance as parents and children stand inside the rental area, pulling on extra pairs of socks and pants. In one corner, a few men and women in Blackhawks gear tower conspicuously, chatting and wrapping tape around hockey sticks. Continue reading