Spring sports starting up means a change for all the coaching staff and players who are participating this year. Sports like football completely changed the layout for their whole season, moving from the fall to the spring. This change came from IHSA taking precautions because of COVID-19, who changed other sports like girls volleyball from fall to winter.
A concern for most coaches this season is the change of the hybrid schedule. Since both groups A and B are being mixed together, and people are able to go to school 5 days a week, the chances of cases rising are bigger. This obviously would impact sports, more people on the teams could have to quarantine and then they would have to cancel games and practices. This is a chance both coaching staff and players are aware of and are willing to take when they signed up to play this year.
“It’s always a worry that it could happen, as long as everyone is diligent about taking precautions and doing the right thing I don’t think it will be a problem,” track coach Anthony Destephano said.
Other coaches don’t see harm in both groups mixing, because cases in Illinois have been dropping and the increase of people able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I am not concerned with groups co-mixing, I believe the pandemic has entered its final stage and soon will be a thing of the past,” head coach of the lacrosse team Brad Fish said.
When it comes to taking precautions for COVID-19, many of the teams have to follow the same rules when it comes to wearing masks. For sports like soccer and lacrosse, the teams have to wear their masks at all times, even when they’re playing in a game. Athletes in other sports like track and tennis don’t have to wear masks when they are competing.
“So we’re making our athletes wear masks as often as possible. The only time they are able to take it off is when they’re actively performing, but we have it on no matter what,” Armata said.
Athletes being able to play this spring has been great for both them and the coaching staff. Since most of the sports playing this spring didn’t get a season last year, the athletes have been settling back into their old ways and just trying to get back into their old groove.
“They continue to thrive in their return to the field, making all sorts of sacrifices along the way from the way things ‘used to be’. I would say most are just glad to be getting back in a routine,” Fish said.
Both boys and girls head track coaches, Anthony Destephano and Elaina Armata, understand how the longer track season may be tough on senior athletes.
“Going into the summer after this school year is over is also going to affect numbers since seniors would rather just graduate and get done, rather than keep coming to school every day for practice, “ Destephano said.
Because of COVID-19, a lot of teams haven’t been able to get as many pre-season workouts the way they had previous years. This could possibly affect this season, since athletes are not as prepared as they could have been. This change may be difficult on teams, especially when they are trying to compare this season to past ones.
“We missed our indoor season, so we haven’t had as much preparation for this season like we usually do. We just want improvement. Since our season is short, we don’t have any crazy expectations. This year we just want them to build a culture and fall in love with the sport,” Armata said.
Some sports are still trying to keep the same routine and goals they had past years. Even though keeping these same goals can be hard on players, coaches still try to push their players to succeed and make this season count.
“Our goals are always the same year in and year out, Conference championship, Sectional championship, and State championship. This season obviously has special meaning due to all of the delays and roadblocks due to the pandemic. We are really just happy to play games,” Fish said.