On November 20, the state of Illinois announced that youth sports were being put on pause due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases across the state. The high school winter sports season was just days away from starting competition, as practices for sports like boys swimming, bowling, and gymnastics were already underway.
The Long Layaway
Finally, after two and a half months of waiting and hoping, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the IHSA announced that winter sports would be able to return once a region was able to make Tier 1 mitigations.
Regions 7 and 8 which include Will and DuPage Counties, both hit that milestone last week. That meant thousands of our local athletes and coaches were ready to start competing in the activities they love.
Shaking off the Rust
For a bowler like Skye Sanford from Naperville Central, it was a bit of a whirlwind to go from not being able to practice for two months, to revving back up and getting ready to start competitive matches in a week’s time.
“I was very excited to go back,” said Sanford. “It was a little difficult adjusting to [suddenly] having a season and practice in addition to schoolwork. But it’s great to be back and with my teammates everyday.”
Despite the long wait, Neuqua Valley boys swimming coach Chad Allen remained confident that his team would eventually get a chance to get back into the pool.
“When we went on the little break there, it was a little longer than I thought, so we were definitely excited to get back in the pool. I know the season is a little shorter than what we were hoping for, but we’re still excited to get back in the pool and compete,” Allen explained.
All Sports Back in Action
Now that the entire state of Illinois is in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, even high risk sports like basketball can finally get back on the court.
Things may look a little different with everyone masked up and minimal crowds in attendance, but after months of waiting, everyone is thrilled to get another chance to play.
Now that sports are back, you can find the latest Naperville Sports Weekly highlights HERE!
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