ROCKFORD (WREX) — The IHSA held another board meeting without a whole lot coming out of it, except for perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel. Sports are still on hold, but contact days could be permitted when the Illinois Department of Public Health allows it, depending on mitigations and local school board approval. With lower mitigations forthcoming for many regions in the state, the IHSA hopes that is sooner than later.
"The IHSA acknowledges the immense mental, emotional, and physical strain that a lack of contact with school programs is causing Illinois high school student-athletes,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “It is our intention that these contact days provide sport-specific training under the leadership of high school coaches. This is an effort to provide a viable sports option to high school athletes given the growing number of student-athletes opting for higher risk opportunities within the state and across state lines."
The IHSA board also discussed several options for the sports calendar for the remainder of the school year. They'll continue to evaluate those and the COVID-19 numbers in the next two weeks before meeting again Jan. 27.
"I feel like it's kind of the same old, same old," Belvidere North Athletic Director Jody Flynn said. "You're always optimistic each week when you hear from the IHSA that you might hear some good news. I still think there's not that connection between the IHSA and Governor's office and IDPH. Until that connection happens, I don't think things are going to change a whole lot. It's a little frustrating."
Once state leadership allows for low-risk winter sports (Boys & Girls Bowling, Cheerleading, Dance, Girls Gymnastics, Boys Swimming & Diving) to begin participation, those teams will be allowed to begin practice immediately and then continue their season through the season calendar established by the board later this month.
After finishing seasons for some low-risk sports in the fall, sports have been on hold since Nov. 20. The clock is ticking to feasibly get in any semblance of a winter sports season.
"Having a good fall season it's a little frustrating we didn't get the chance to get a winter season in," Flynn said. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I don't feel overly optimistic about the winter season now. If that's not going to happen let's turn our attention to the spring season and hope we can get that in."
The last schedule the IHSA released featured football, volleyball and boys soccer moved from fall to spring. Those dates are rapidly approaching, as the IHSA continues to try to form a plan while working under IDPH guidelines. Meanwhile, the athletes remain in a holding pattern, holding out hope they'll get to compete for their schools this year.