EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — To the delight of many across the state, sports will be played at the middle school level this fall. Through COVID-19, the East Peoria junior high softball team says they are ready to get back out on the diamond and play the game they love.
“It’s nothing out of the ordinary. There’s a few new rules and stipulations from the IESA that we have to follow,” Central Junior High softball coach Nicole Duncheon said. “We are taking our temperatures every day and doing all of the sheets that we have to fill out. So, it’s just playing the game, just a little more distance between us.”
Getting back to action is a big boost, but Morton baseball coach Jesse Crawford is excited for another reason. This season is the first year he will get to coach his seventh grade son, Cam, at a competive level.
“Not only do I get to experience it as a coach this year, I have a son in the program so as a parent as well. Looking forward to this opportunity to play middle school ball,” Crawford said. “He was the first on the field I hugged in the 2018 state title, so a lot of great memories of him and now to be able to share them on the field with him and to coach him, it’s amazing.”
There will be no state series for fall sports at the IESA level, but the return to play gives kids across the state an opportunity to compete and feel a sense of normalcy.
“This is part of junior high experiences that they always talk about and when we got the news that we were ready to go, they were super excited to come back,” Duncheon said. “Whatever we gotta do to find a way to get between the white lines, that’s what we are going to do.”
“It gives us just a little bit of hope as far as a sense of normalcy,” Crawford added. “For the kids, it gives them something to do and something to look forward to outside of school. So I think my coaching and my energy level is probably going to be higher this year.”