New Year, New Game Plan

Andrew Hale, Assistant Sports Editor

Sports at H-F in 2020 will be unlike any other school year. On July 29, the school announced that football, boys soccer and girls volleyball, all of which are traditionally fall sports, will be pushed back to the spring, but the postponement of these sports weren’t the only change that H-F announced.

From guidelines set forth by the IDPH, CDC, Office of the Governor, ISBE and IHSA, the H-F Administration and the athletic department have developed a plan for a “Return to Activities,” to ensure player safety.

This plan consists of specific responsibilities put in place for all student-athletes to follow to guarantee the safety of everyone.

According to the guidelines released from H-F’s Athletic Department, “Student-Athletes should arrive no earlier than 15 minutes prior to the start of their scheduled activity, maintain social distancing by being 6 feet apart as much as possible, Student-Athletes shall bring their own water bottle (labelled with First and Last Name), shoes, and towels etc.”

“It is a collective effort by all participants (Administration, Coaching Staff and Student Athletes).  Everyone has to do their part… the health and safety of our student athletes and coaches is our top priority,” H-F Athletic Director Matthew Lyke said.

Not only was safety on the field a concern, but the mental well being of the students played a big role in the plan to postpone some fall sports. The IHSA Board of Directors believe that the plan offers the most realistic likelihood for student athletes to participate in sports while balancing the challenges of remote learning.

“We are an education based athletic association and school has to come first,” IHSA Board President Tim McConnell said in a statement released on July 29.  By delaying the majority of sports in the fall, it will allow schools and students the chance to acclimate to what will be, for many, a totally new educational experience.“

Sports that are still playing this fall have also had to adapt to new things under unique circumstances.

“Athletes and coaches are all screened for health before being permitted to join practice including having their temperature taken with a contactless thermometer.  Traditional workouts have been adjusted to allow for more distancing of our athletes,” Head Boy’s Cross Country Coach Brian O’Donnell said.

These circumstances have helped coaches and players to miss the wholesome moments in sports that seem to be taken for granted.

“Honestly, I miss fist bumps.  I am always providing verbal feedback to my athletes at practices and meets, but I miss the high fives and fist bumps that acknowledge a job well done,” O’Donnell said. “At our first competition I also missed the conversations that would typically take place with the coaches of the other teams.  The coaching community is strong and I missed connecting with them.”