Hinsdale South basketball team forfeit game to show up in support of varsity coach

The Hinsdale Township High School District 86 school board voted against the removal of Hinsdale South varsity basketball coach Michael Belcaster during a special meeting Tuesday.

Hinsdale South’s basketball team forfeited their match against Providence Catholic High School, as players packed the Hinsdale Central library where the meeting was held.

“Belcaster leads by example, he’s one of the most hard working coaches I’ve ever seen,” Olasupo Akande, a senior on the Hinsdale South varsity boys basketball team, said to the school board. “He stays up late at night watching film on teams that we play weeks in advance, and allows us to stay in the gym after practice when most coaches would go home to their family.”

Throughout the night, nine, of the more than dozen current and former players in attendance, made public comments testifying to the positive actions of Belcaster, and requesting the board vote against the dismissal of their coach.

Belcaster was absent from the meeting, choosing to stay silent about the situation, but was represented in the room by his father and wife Alicia, who thanked the students and community members that had shown up in a show of support.

“Our second daughter was born three days before the season and tryouts began in December; Mike didn’t miss one day, because he is dedicated to this program,” Alicia said during the meeting.

After roughly an hour of deliberation in closed session, the school board returned with their verdict; the room full of hopeful players, parents, friends and family of coach Belcaster erupted into celebration.

During the meeting no explanation or comment was given by District officials as to why Belcaster had been suspended.

On Nov. 22 Erin Savage, the mother of a senior at Hinsdale South, filed a lawsuit against the school district after her son, a former all-conference player on the school’s varsity team, was allegedly cut in retaliation for filing a complaint against former coach Michael Moretti for “verbal abuse, bullying (and) humiliation,” according to a lawsuit.

Following an investigation by Hinsdale South officials, Moretti was demoted from varsity to freshman basketball coach.

Savage’s son was reinstated to the team on Nov. 28.

No members of the school board could be reached for comment after their decision as they ended the meeting by convening to an unscheduled closed session.