The highly-decorated track and field team has seven IHSA state titles and eight runner-up finishes in the last quarter century. The Mustangs never finished lower than second in state from 1994-2005.
And yet the team has done all of this with a meager budget, training during the indoor season in the school hallways and stairwells along with occasional trips to the modest weight room at 1744 W. Pryor Ave., said Carisa Parker, the mother of junior sprinter Carinne Parker.
"We want to get new uniforms this year. We want our girls to look good and feel good," said Parker, a 1992 graduate Morgan Park High School who also ran track.
She's among a group of parents who put together a GoFundMe page about five months ago. The online fundraiser has thus far brought in just $680 toward its goal of $10,000. But Carisa Parker said few people knew about the effort until recently.
Indeed, the Morgan Park girls track team held fundraiser Thursday evening at Home Run Inn. From 11 a.m.-9 p.m., 20 percent of all the proceeds from the pizza parlor at 10900 S. Western Ave. in Morgan Park were given to the team.
The team of 27 girls is also selling raffle tickets, said Parker, a Washington Heights resident.
"When it comes to fundraisers, we haven't asked — not just as a track team but also the school," said Parker, who's also the chairwoman of the local school council.
She said the proceeds from both fundraisers will help pay for new uniforms, warm-ups as well as travel expenses. Travel is the most expensive piece of this puzzle, as the Morgan Park squad often goes great distances to face other top competitors, Parker said.
Renting a bus for just one of these trips can cost upward of $3,000, she said.
Parker believes track coach Derrick Calhoun helps pay for many of the expenses himself. Calhoun is a legend when it comes to coaching, being inducted into the Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame last year.
His assistant, Monica Dawson, will be inducted into the same hall of fame this year. She has been with Calhoun on the track for 24 seasons, Parker said.
Last year, the Morgan Park team finished second in the 2A team standings — 10 points behind Cahokia. They did so without any field events. Rather, the Mustangs dominated the relays, winning the 400-, 800- and 1,600-meter events.
Coach Calhoun "knows that our girls are going to come and compete," said Parker, who also trained under with the legendary track guru.
She said part of Calhoun's system is to mandate that all track and field runners participate in indoor and outdoor training. And though mostly sprinters, the girls are also required to run cross country in the fall.
"He builds leaders," Parker said of her former coach.
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