Why the ELS Basketball Game Is So Important


Ashleigh Rupprecht, Staff Writer

Without a doubt COVID has canceled and postponed several activities students at Lake Forest High School were looking forward to. Whether it was a sports season, school dance, or in person learning, every student has been bummed one time or another throughout this pandemic. 

From the perspective of a special needs student at LFHS, the cancellation of the 2021 ELS Game was the biggest disappointment by far. 

These students anticipate this day all year long. The excitement builds during the weeks of practice in Coach Spagnolis Integrated Wellness class leading up to the best day of the year. 

The game is more than just an activity for these students; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for them. 

“I think more than anything it gives them a sense of belonging to the school,” Coach Spagnoli said. “It gives them the sense that they can do what other students in the school get to do. It gives them the opportunity, not just to do it and participate, but to do it in front of the entire student body. ”

To students in this class, The ELS Game is like the state championship most LFHS athletes dream of making it to in their high school career. 

“The ELS Game is really fun and it makes me really happy,” senior and current competitor Jane Riley said.

Riley participated in the 2018 and 2019 games but has not participated since her sophomore year due to COVID.

It is crucial for the community of LFHS that the 2022 ELS Game happens.

Many may believe that the game only impacts the athletes, but the ELS Game is one of the most powerful displays of school spirit and pride all year.

“People in this school love this school for a lot of different reasons,” Spagnoli said. “I don’t think it’s ever on display more than it is during that game.” 

LFHS alum Emily Bertram, during her time as a TA for integrated wellness, also values the way  the game breeds school spirit.

“My favorite part of the ELS Game was when the athletes first walked in and the crowd went wild,” she said. “The smiles that were plastered onto the athletes faces were priceless! I will give anything to see that again.It breaks down barriers and proves a sense of unity that our school desperately needs.” 

A typical practice consists of communicating as a team, encouraging others, being a teammate and improving basketball skills. 

“It’s been super awesome to see how excited those who played in the last ELS Game in February of 2020 are to get back on the court,” junior Brennan Riley, a TA for Integrated Wellness, said. “Their energy has definitely spread to the rest of the class which has really helped to bring our class even closer together.”

The importance of this game to the student athletes is irreplaceable. The game motivates physical activity and inspires social development as Spagnoli makes the effort to connect important life skills to their basketball training along the way.

“We learn the basketball part of it and the other part of it is we learn about the community involvement and how to get the community as involved as possible. Because we have always felt the community is what the school is about,”  Spagnoli said.  

With the past two years looking different at LFHS, let’s let the ELS Game work its magic and bring Lake Forest together. 

“It is almost impossible to describe it in words” Spagnoli, who has experienced 10 plus ELS Games, said. “But when you witness it, it’s easy to see.”