EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — As the Illinois Central College women’s basketball team gets ready for a season scheduled to begin next month, the players can’t help but think about what they used to do this week.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is filled with high school basketball holiday tournaments. But not in this COVID-delayed high school season.
The Cougars are typically playing in their own holiday tournament. But the thought of high school players, some perhaps headed to ICC in the future, sitting at home without basketball this school year is heartbreaking.
“It would be disappointing not having a senior season,” said ICC sophomore Camryn Stafford. “I really feel for them right now. I wouldn’t know what to think because basketball has been in my life forever.”
Stafford was a star at Illini Bluffs High School in Glasford. Courtney Jones won a pair of state championships while at Morton High School.
“It’s kind of fun being an upperclassman and showing the younger (high school players) how to do it,” said Jones, now an ICC freshman. “If they don’t have a season it’d be heartbreaking.”
With Illinois in Tier 3 COVID mitigations, all high school sports have been on hold since Nov. 20. The Illinois High School Association hopes to meet with the Illinois Department of Public Health in early January to create a plan to play prep basketball in 2021.
The National Junior College Athletic Association moved the junior college season calendar to January-April. The Cougars, who typically start games in November, were allowed to practice in the fall and they have been on semester break for nearly a month.
The NJCAA calendar allows teams to resume practice January 4 with games starting later in the month.
ICC freshman Derria Edwards graduated from Peoria High School, where her father still coaches her sister Denali. The Peoria High Lions likely won’t be playing when she starts her season next month.
“I can only imagine what’s going through my sister’s head,” Edwards said. “And my dad has to stay positive with his team. He doesn’t know (if there’s going to be a season) either. I just hope they are able to get a season in so they can feel what I felt as a senior.”