As the school year begins, sports matches and practices make a comeback, but due to COVID-19, sports seasons change, and safety protocols were implemented. The athletic department has been working together to make sure that the programs are following policies enforced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Illinois High School Association (IHSA), and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
Central’s athletic director Brian Moe explains how he coordinates with North’s athletic director Tina Woolard and other Northern Lake County (NLCC) directors to make sure that they are “offering students the best opportunities in the safest way possible.”
With all the rules and regulations implemented, cross country coach James Centella explains, “The kids have to wear masks. We wear masks when we do our warm-ups and cooldowns, stretching and core exercises, and when we do our easy running. [When] they get a little bit out of breath, they can pull it down or go off to the side and catch their breath, but then for intense workouts, we’re allowed to take the masks off. The other thing that’s changed is that we’ve been doing all of our running in Central Park, whereas in a normal year we let the kids run through the community, in the neighborhoods … or go to the forest reserves. With everything going on with the pandemic, … we want to make sure that they’re following protocols.”
One of the recent changes this year is that spectators are now regulated. They are limited to groups of fifty. These groups will be thirty feet away from each other and within those groups, each individual is required to social distance and wear a mask. Each spectator will be accounted for, however, the means are currently being discussed and will be announced in the upcoming days.
Moe explains, “we have a running Google Doc, [where] we’re (athletic department and administration) throwing ideas back at each other.” They are currently updating guidelines to ensure the safety of the students and spectators.
Student participation wasn’t an issue once the seasons began. “We typically have very large [numbers of] cross country members, so total boys and girls, are still right around 75, which is about where we’re normally at. For tennis, we’re up a little bit [in terms of members] and golf kind of hold steady,” explained Moe.
The student-athletes’ performance in the first cross country match amazed Centella.
“I was nervous about the team this summer because we didn’t know there’s a season… we had to tell the kids, ‘We want you to train, we want you to work hard’ but there might not even be a payoff at the end, if the season gets canceled. But overall, I am so happy with how the kids trained this summer. And it showed because our first meet, we had some amazing performances, the kids were running the best [mile] times of their lives at the first meet of the season. Their beating last year’s times from the end of the year when they were in really good shape, so it was awesome to see that,” said Centella
Varsity tennis player Mackena Luger is striving to continue being conference champions for her senior year. Luger emphasizes that the team spirit increased since “now, we’re leaning on each other for support, and we need each other to [stay] motivated.”