PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The news of a plan to return high school sports to competition Wednesday was met enthusiastically by most area coaches.
The Illinois High School Association announced its revamped sports calendar that allows all winter, spring and summer sports to have shortened seasons over the next five months. Schools located in Region 2, which encompasses Peoria, Bloomington and the surrounding areas, are allowed to compete in all sports as long as the 20-county area stays in Phase 4 restrictions.
The traditional spring sports (baseball, softball, track and field, lacrosse, boys tennis and girls soccer) were given the longest season by the IHSA. The ten-week season helps ease the reminder that last year’s spring season was canceled during the early days of the pandemic.
“We are thrilled, lots of excited girls on our end,” said East Peoria softball coach Denee Menzione. ” They’re ready to get going because they missed their season last year. This is a lot of excitement today.”
There is overlap of sports.
For example, the football season starts as the basketball season is ending. And it runs long enough to interrupt the start of the baseball, track, lacrosse and wrestling seasons.
“I think in the end, we’ve got to be satisfied with it. Now with the athletes, multi-sport athletes, we have some kids that overlap,” said Normal West baseball coach Chris Hawkins. “When I look at the schedule, I know there’s some kids that have to make some very, very important decisions, and tough decisions.”
Football coaches share athletes with other teams every fall but this year the season was moved to the spring because of the pandemic.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to let guys be multi-sport athletes,” said Bloomington football coach Scott Godfrey. “That’s something that we are really big on and most of our coaches here are. So, we’re going to do our best, it’s not ideal. Hopefully we can get guys in time for competitions and they don’t miss them in either one of their sports.”
The basketball season is first up. Teams are allowed to play as soon as they complete seven days of practice.
“They are in season mode. February is when a team decides to peak,” said Washington boys basketball coach Eric Schermerhorn as his team practiced Wednesday night. “So we’ve got seven days to trey and figure out how to get ready to play basketball right now.”
Sports still considered high risk by the Illinois Department of Public Health aren’t allowed to have state tournaments or playoffs. That means no state titles in basketball, wrestling and football.
The IHSA is still hoping to have a state series in the other sports. Schools can schedule regular season games against opponents in their regions and in their conference.
And that’s great news for many area athletes and coaches who, just a few weeks ago, figured the odds of having any kind of season were slim as high school sports were put on hold as Illinois wrestled with COVID-19 surges.
“We’re not game ready by any means but we are excited to be in the gym. We just worked on some offense-defense,” said Richwoods girls basketball coach Todd Hursey. “The kids were really loud and excited, talking with each other. It’s very exciting right now. It makes me feel great. I just texted my wife and said I’m not doming home for a while.”
Here’s the schedule the IHSA board of directors approved Wednesday:
|Sport||IDPH Risk||Practices Start||Practice Dates|
|State Series||End Date|
|Boys/Girls Basketball||Higher||ASAP||7 dates||No State Series||March 13|
|Boys Swimming & Diving||Lower||ASAP||7 dates||No State Series||March 13|
|Dance||Lower||ASAP||7 dates||Virtual (2/27 & 3/6)||March 13|
|Cheerleading||Lower||ASAP||7 dates||Virtual (3/6 & 3/12)||March 13|
|Boys/Girls Bowling||Lower||ASAP||7 dates||No State Series||March 13|
|Girls Gymnastics||Lower||ASAP||7 dates||No State Series||March 13|
|Badminton||Lower||ASAP||7 dates||TBD||April 3|
|Boys Soccer||Moderate||March 1||7 dates||No State Series||April 17|
|Football||Higher||March 3||1st Game March 19||No State Series||April 24|
|Girls Volleyball||Moderate||March 8||7 dates||No State Series||April 24|
|Boys Gymnastics||Lower||March 15||7 dates||TBD||May 22|
|Boys/Girls Water Polo||Moderate||March 15||7 dates||TBD||May 29|
|Baseball||Lower||April 5||7 dates||TBD||June 19|
|Boys/Girls Lacrosse||Higher||April 5||7 dates||TBD||June 19|
|Girls Soccer||Moderate||April 5||7 dates||TBD||June 19|
|Softball||Lower||April 5||7 dates||TBD||June 19|
|Boys Tennis||Lower||April 5||7 dates||TBD||June 19|
|Boys/Girls Track & Field||Lower||April 5||7 dates||TBD||June 19|
|Boys Volleyball||Moderate||April 5||7 dates||TBD||June 19|
|Wrestling||Higher||April 19||7 dates||No State Series||June 12|