Local athletic directors optimistic about return to play, but challenges are ahead

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Improving COVID-19 metrics has put Region 2 into Phase 4 of reopening. The news paves the way for local high school sports to return to action.

The resumption of high school sports is an announcement that school administrations and student-athletes have looked forward to.

“This is really the first positive news we’ve had for a while and kind of the first glimpse into hopefully seeing our athletes back in action,” said Katie Cazalet, Dunlap High School athletic director.

While optimism is high, school officials are now waiting to learn how each sport will proceed. This is even more of a question after some were moved from their traditional seasons.

“We felt like the overlap in sports would be pretty minimal to where we could manage it pretty well. Depending on what they do with the different seasons, it could be a whole different story now,” Cazalet said.

The Peoria High School athletic director says schools will have to get creative with scheduling. He says multi-sport athletes could be very busy in the upcoming months.

“It’s very possible that we’ll have kids wrestling on Monday and Saturday, playing baseball on Tuesday and Thursday, and running a track meet Wednesday and Friday,” said Brien Dunphy, Peoria High School athletic director.

Dunphy says scheduling facilities for practice will also be a new challenge.

“We have more people competing for indoor space than we ever have. So what it takes is cooperation and good organization,” he said.

Dunphy says he believes a move to Phase 4 may lead some to believe they can relax, but he says student-athletes should take COVID-19 precautions even more seriously.

“In reality this is a time to be more cautious, to be more careful on the weekends,” he said.

Both athletic directors say they expect more guidance when the IHSA board meets on Wednesday.

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