ISHA recommending masks for all athletes playing indoor sports, coaches hopeful fall season continues

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Tightening restrictions, the Illinois State High School Association (IHSA) released new guidelines for fall sports.

IHSA officials announced this week they may soon tighten restrictions for fall sports and practices and coaches are still hopeful a season will be played.

Roland Brown, head coach at Richwoods High School, said the association is going backward, not forward.

“It doesn’t bode well for the upcoming season, you don’t want to move backward, you always want to move forward,” Brown said.

Part of the proposed plan won’t allow contact drills or physical contact among athletes, altering football practices that have been taking place for months. Peoria Notre Dame Football Head Coach Pat Armstrong said he’s 50-50 on the season happening.

“It is. It’s very disappointing. We had a few practices throughout June.”

The plan also states all coaches and officials must wear masks and athletes who play indoor sports, like girls’ volleyball, will play with masks, sweat and all. McLean County Health Department Assistant Administrator Cathy Covertson-Anderson said it’s about stopping the spread of the virus.

“If you are playing a sport where you’re close together, and there are people exerting themselves, there’s a lot of droplets that come out of the athletes’ mouths,” Covertson-Anderson said.

Covertson-Anderson said it’s not ideal, but athletes should know when it’s time for them to sit out and take a break.

“They would really need to monitor themselves,” Covertson-Anderson said. “If they’re wearing a mask for physical activity, they should be watching for light headiness and difficulty breathing.”

Football coaches said it will be tough, but they want a season to happen for their players.

“I just don’t want the boys to go without a season,” Armstrong said. “It was terrible for basketball to end the way they did.”

Brown said he hopes practice regulations won’t interfere too much with the game.

“Hopefully we can use the masks when we have to, take them off when we don’t need them,” Brown said.

The IHSA is still awaiting approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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