The Chicago Bears are going back to school for one day in August. High school, that is.
The Bears and Vernon Hills High School will be swapping practice fields on Aug. 22 as part of a community outreach program, the Chicago Tribune is reporting. And the best news? It will be open to the public.
“Kids will be able to walk from their homes to Vernon Hills High School and watch the Bears practice,” Vernon Hills High School athletic director Brian McDonald told the Tribune. “It’s a cool opportunity that doesn’t come around very often, and we’re excited to provide that opportunity to our community.”
Now that the proper permits have been granted by the Village Board, quarterback Mitch Trubisky, head coach Matt Nagy and the rest of the Bears' roster will be headed to Vernon Hills' practice field three days prior to their fourth preseason game — often the team's biggest tuneup game for the regular season — against the Kansas City Chiefs three days later. The Bears will have just returned from joint training camp practices with the Broncos in Denver the week prior.
Bears vice president of football administration Cliff Stein expected about 5,000 tickets will be available. Tickets and parking are free, but those interested in attending must register for passes on the Bears' website and bring it to the event. There also will be a limited number of tickets available only to Vernon Hills residents and students at the high school.
Many Bears players live in Vernon Hills. Rookie linebacker Joey Iyiegbuniwe, who rented an apartment there after the team spent a fourth-round pick on him this past April, told PFW a few weeks ago he chose the area because a lot of his teammates live within a few blocks of him there.
"I like the area so far, pretty nice," Iyiegbuniwe said. "I wish it was a few minutes close [to Halas Hall], but it's a good spot for me and a lot of the guys."
The team will dress at its Halas Hall facility in Lake Forest and will be bused in for a 6 p.m. practice that night. Gates will open to fans at 4 p.m. that day, and there will be a fireworks show after practice is over — around 9 p.m. that night.
Earlier in the day, the Vernon Hills football team will be having is practice at the Bears' Walter Payton Indoor Facility and are expected to be finished in time to watch their NFL counterparts practice that night.
The Bears will use this event in place of the team's annual family night practice at Soldier Field, which will not happen this year, Stein said. The team has held one-off practices at other high schools in recent years, including at Warren Township and Prospect High.