PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The sound of balls hitting a bat returned to high school fields Monday.
So did the sounds of soccer, tennis, lacrosse and track practice.
“There’s no words to explain it. I’m just so thankful we finally get to be back,” said East Peoria junior softball player Bri Despines. “No one understands what it’s like to be off for so long. You just have to push through the best you can.”
Sports that were canceled last spring during the early days of the pandemic returned for practice Monday.
“Last night, I was tossing and turning in bed, excited,” said Morton baseball coach Jesse Crawford. “Almost like the preseason, first game jitters. Just to get back out there, get the foot in the door, see what we have and start to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”
These traditional spring sports are called summer sports during this COVID schedule in 2021. But players and coaches are just glad to be back together.
“It’s exciting because it’s been a year,” said Dunlap senior tennis player Venil Tummarakota. “It feels weird being out with a group. Over the summer it’s just me hitting with individual people.”
Teams will practice this week with competition starting next week. And the Illinois High School Association intends to have state championships for these sports which were canceled a year ago.
“I’m so excited about it,” said Richwood soccer senior Mary Jane Spangler. “I’m just glad I can make my senior year somewhat fun. A lot of stuff has been canceled and this will just definitely help this year be so much better.”