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August 2020 View more

While most students are waiting to get back to class and activities with their friends, high school athletes are training in hopes they’ll get to compete this fall.

The Illinois High School Association, which oversees high school athletics, has guided schools through opening conditioning camps for small groups in June and summer “contact days” practices in July—with the goal of building toward a traditional season, IHSA assistant executive director Matt Troha says.

The IHSA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee sought to provide advice for how schools could safely reintroduce sports under Illinois’s phased reopening plan, says Troha.

“As athletes and coaches, when this started, the natural thought was: This is to get us ready for the season and to win. We were saying, we’re looking at it more from the mental and emotional aspect. [The committee members] think kids have been negatively impacted by this,” he says. “I think a lot of times, high school gets put in a box with college and pro sports. At the high school level, the sports team might be the reason they go to school, it might be their meal for the day, it might be their support network.”

Planning for this school year began in the spring as the IHSA surveyed its members about what adjustments to the seasons and schedules would be most palatable. Across the board, member schools opposed moving fall sports later in the school year, Troha says. “What our membership did tell us is that they would like to see every sport compete, if possible—even if we have shortened seasons,” he says.

Depending on when the state’s COVID-19 rates are low enough for the Illinois Department of Public Health to give the OK, fall sports may start as scheduled with full practices on August 10, or they may be delayed. If that’s the case, Troha says, the fall, winter, and spring seasons all could be pushed back. Seasons could be shortened, or the membership may decide to extend competition into next summer.

Photo by Visual Image Photography (Soccer)