WINNEBAGO (WREX) — Better late than never, high school basketball is back and the excitement is through the roof.
"I'm so excited, it's been so long since I've played to be honest besides like AAU but it's the best time of the year to play for a school team," said Ethan Ackerman, a senior on the Winnebago boys basketball squad. "But I'm definitely excited to play with this team, this group of guys, they're amazing to play with."
When the news broke that basketball was able to get back on the court, the players and coaches returned with a greater sense of gratitude.
"I think before we just took everything for granted," said senior Larson Garrigan. "This year every single moment we need to take advantage of because we never know when it could stop or what's going to happen with basketball after this."
As much as coach Joe Murphy wanted to get back to playing, he didn't think it would happen.
"Actually a week or two ago I told my team, I said I don't think we're going to play at all this year, don't get your hopes too high," said Murphy. "Then all of a sudden I got a call last week from our athletic director and said 'hey, can start practicing. Can't play yet but you can start practicing'. I couldn't believe it."
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught many lessons and has put things in a bigger perspective.
"As coaches, and I don't care where you're coaching at, you always say this could be your last game, this could be your last practice, you could get an injury, something else could happen bad on the streets," said Murphy. "Whatever it is so take advantage of every opportunity you have and play as hard as you can whether it's a game or practice or whatever because it may be your last."
Soaking it all up, with hopes they can continue to practice, accompanied by games soon enough.