February 15, 2021

Return to Play; How Local Teams Adjust to New Schedule

With the life-altering pandemic approaching nearly one year of wreaking havoc on society, our local prep teams are adjusting on the fly. Following months of delays, the IHSA has opened doors to gyms, pools and bowling alleys – while also laying out plans to conduct winter, spring and summer sports. We dive into in this feature, presented by Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Getting the Band Back Together

Liska: We really try and hit home with a family feeling in our program so the fact that our family is together again, we’re excited and taking every precaution we can to stay together.

And so is life in sports, 2021 edition. Nikki Liska is the head coach of the Metea Valley Badminton team. Hinted in December, badminton was moved up from the spring to the winter season. Every bit of advanced notice helped with the IHSA going from 0 to 60, announcing at the end of January that sports may resume in early February.

Liska: I did give me athletes a little warning because we had a little heads up in December. So I brought them together before we left for winter break to say ‘hey, this is a chance, we don’t know it’s going to happen but word is it could.’ And so, let’s come together over winter break and make sure we get our bodies moving and get ourselves ready both physically and mentally to start a season.

The story can be echoed across all sports, with winter athletes thrilled to be back and spring and summer athletes eagerly awaiting seasons to begin.

Stine: It’s been a crazy nine months for sure. Not knowing if you’re going to play and even up until a couple of weeks ago, we didn’t think we were going to get an opportunity to play. Things kind of turned out way and now we are going to have a season and we know when it’s going to start. We have a schedule created and now we have to figure out how we’re going to deal with Mother Nature out there.

Return to Play for Football

Naperville Central Football Coach Mike Stine has been itching to get back on the field since the fall season was officially postponed. Though, not so much for glory, but to help foster camaraderie and memories for his athletes.

Stine: It’s not just about the games, you know the game of football builds a brotherhood and a bond. For these seniors to be able to bond together again for a 8-10 week season – working out, playing games, create a lifetime of memories – that’s what high school sports are about.

We may be nearing the one year anniversary of the shutdown, but it appears it’ll be a little sweeter with life slowly moving back towards normalcy – at least on the field of play.

For more prep sports highlights, visit our Naperville Sports Weekly page.

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