After meeting on Oct. 28, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) voted to continue winter sports as scheduled, with the exception of postponing wrestling until the spring season. This decision will allow LT to begin boys bowling, boys swimming and diving, competitive cheer, competitive dance, spirit cheer, girls gymnastics, and boys and girls basketball on Nov. 16. During the meeting, IHSA kept both the exposure risks of the sports as well as the mental health of student-athletes in mind, ISHA said.
“Mounting challenges, from increased mental health issues among our students to a shrinking calendar that limits our ability to move sport seasons this school year, were instrumental in this decision to move forward,” ISHA posted online. “Contact days for our teams this fall have been an incredible boon to our students’ well-being. We fear for the mental health of students who attempt to traverse a long winter with no athletic outlet available.”
IHSA worked closely with the Illinois Department of Health and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee throughout the decision-making process for each sport, but boys and girls basketball was most closely reevaluated. Basketball’s risk level had been changed by Governor J.B. Pritkzer from medium to high risk on Oct. 27. Despite the updated risk level, which sparked ongoing discussions regarding altering the season, boys varsity Head Coach Tom Sloan remains hopeful his players will have an opportunity to compete in some variation of high school basketball.
“The physical release of stress and built-up energy from when you’re stuck at home makes having an outlet really important, especially when it’s something you love and gives you a chance to socialize with friends you haven’t been able to see very often,” Sloan said. “It’s such a difficult time right now because there is the balance between that physical and social-emotional health and also that physical health of everyone in the pandemic individually, as well as the collective responsibility to try to keep the vulnerable people healthy.”
IHSA will meet with representatives from the Illinois Department of Public Health on Nov. 19 to finalize the status of the boys and girls basketball season, Sloan said. LT remains committed to providing athletic outlets to students while limiting the spread of COVID-19, Assistant Athletic Director Chris Cabaj said.
“It’s heartbreaking for me having grown up and playing multiple sports at LT to see all these students, especially seniors, potentially without their sport,” Cabaj said. “Having involvements, whether it’s a sport or club, is crucial; however, LT will ensure the safe participation of all our student-athletes.”