IHSA announces a return to high school sports

New guidelines allow student athletes to participate in winter sports after a “pause” earlier in the year



Varsity wrestling coach Jake Guardalabene addresses his team during a match against Hampshire on December 21, 2019. Up to this point, the varsity wrestling team and other winter sports have not been allowed to practice.

Madison Harvey, Staff Writer

Following the removal of Tier 3 mitigations, the Illinois High School Association will proceed with winter sports. 

The highest risk sports may take part in non-contact practices and training. Medium risk sports will go on with intra-team practices and scrimmages, with parental consent. Finally, low risk sports will be allowed to hold intraconference or intra regional competitions. These sports will also be allowed to have state tournaments when the time comes. 

Sports at the highest risk level will be allowed to continue participation in noncontact training. Guidelines for training include wearing a mask the entire time, pre-workout symptom checks, zero contact with other athletes, heavy sanitation, and limited time slots. 

After the outbreak of COVID-19 last March, all spring sports seasons were cancelled. Many had hope going into the winter season, seeing as a number of fall sports carried on with an altered but successful season. However, during the transition from fall to winter sports, the IHSA announced that participation in these activities would be postponed. 

John Beerbower, the Director of Strength and Conditioning says, “The training is beneficial but the social and emotional benefits of the training are the most important right now. You can’t understate that.” 

Beerbower adds that he is more than proud of his athletes for following the guidelines and is very thankful for the opportunity to train with them. 

The IHSA board of directors met on January 13, and announced shortly after that high school sports will be allowed to return to play. This announcement came as a thrill to many athletes, including sophomore Cooper Ten Bruin, who states, “Sports for me are a way to get away, and that was taken away which really sucked.” 

As of Monday, January 25th, schools will be able to begin holding contact days under the IDPH’s guidelines based on risk level. The board of directors is set to meet again on January 27, and it is assumed that they will be setting dates for competition at that meeting.

This is an updated version of a story published in The McHenry Messenger’s print edition.