Earlier this month, the IHSA allowed high school teams to resume organized team activities for the first time since mid-March. The schools were limited to workouts and conditioning drills in groups of ten or less, while maintaining social distancing.
IHSA Phase 1
Once these IHSA Phase 1 guidelines were released, several Naperville area schools began to develop workout programs to get their athletes back into an exercise routine. At Naperville North, strength and conditioning coach and head lacrosse coach Kevin Benages worked with Athletic Director Bob Quinn and Principal Stephanie Posey to create a fitness routine that would allow Huskie athletes to return to campus and begin training for the fall season.
Naperville North Pod Workouts
Over 300 student athletes take part in the daily workouts from Monday through Thursday, preparing for sports like football, cross country and competitive dance. Kids bring their own backpacks to be used for weight lifting and wear masks while entering and exiting the workout areas. Despite the necessary precautions creating the pod-like environment, enthusiasm for these school wide workouts has been high.
“Just that social, emotional aspect has been super positive and uplifting for them and their morale. To be back on campus, to bring back some kind of normalcy at Naperville North has been incredible,” said Benages. “The kids seem to be fired up.”
Benet Academy also returned to team workouts on a more individual team basis. The Redwing softball team meets twice a week with the team split into two groups. Like the Naperville North students, the Benet girls are just happy to be back on the diamond once again.
“Normally I’d be like, ‘Oh I hate conditioning, I don’t want to be here,’ but it’s actually not bad,” said rising junior Tori Wuann. “I have a greater appreciation for it. I’m just happy to be with everyone and see everybody.”
“It’s super hot out here and it’s super hard doing ladders and hurdles and everything. But it’s just nice to see everyone again and see the team working hard,” shared 2020 grad Megan Seranko.
On to the Next Phase
With the state of Illinois ready to move into Phase 4 on June 26th, the IHSA will likely soon follow into its own Phase 2, which would allow teams to practice in groups of 50 or less. It could even allow for summer league games to take place. That would allow a recent Benet graduate like Megan Seranko a chance to play with her teammates one final time after losing her senior season to the COVID-19 shutdown.
“It would definitely be nice to wear the Benet uniform one more time,” said Seranko. “We’ve been building this team for four years, since freshman year. So wearing that uniform one more time, even if it’s just for a BBQ or a whiffle ball game, it’s always nice to represent the school.”
While the IHSA Phase 2 plan still needs to be approved by the Illinois Department of Health, coaches and athletes across Naperville are excited for the possibility of returning to full practices and games and remain hopeful for the next step for reopening.
“We’ve been looking forward to the groups of 50. We are going to continue to provide the best for our student athletes,” said Benages. “As soon as those plans are solidified and we know what those expectations are then we will solidify everything that we’ve got. We’ve got some ideas, some plans but once we get that green light we will make those decisions.”
Reporting for Naperville News 17, I’m Justin Cornwell.
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