High School sports to resume in Illinois

Callie Kranz, staff writer

All sports and activities at Joliet West have been affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been impacting people around the world for over a year. Students miss seeing friends, teammates, coaches, and participating in these activities.

The IHSA announced on Wednesday, January 27, that high school students will be allowed to participate in sports for an upcoming season this spring. Athletic Director Steve Millsaps comments, “We are really excited to have student athletes back on campus participating in athletics and doing what they love to do.” This is an exciting feat for students, considering the pandemic has put many sports on hold for over a year. 

 Coach Kreiger, head boys varsity basketball coach and special education teacher, is also looking forward to the opportunity for students to participate in sports again. Sports are not only good for physical health, but for mental health as well. “Sports provide our students, parents, and coaches with so many social, emotional and physical benefits. Being active amongst teammates all contributing towards accomplishing common goals is rewarding.” This is also a benefit for students considering they have been stuck at home due to state protocols and remote learning. “ I presumed being able to leave the house and from in front of their computer and phone screens will be a welcomed addition as well.” He explains, “Sweating, laughing, growing, and learning together in an environment we have all missed so dearly provides individuals with a strong sense of motivation and purpose.” 

Sophomore Hannah Picco is a big part of athletics at Joliet West. She played on the Varsity Girls Tennis Team this past fall, and is planning on running track again this upcoming spring. “Surprisingly not much was affected by covid-19, as tennis is a socially distant sport.” she explains. Despite having been able to play, the season was shortened, causing some challenges. “This year I have had to work a lot harder than before because we had a shorter season and colleges are still scouting.” However, Hannah is thankful for the resume of sports at JTHS. Playing sports in the spring doesn’t come without its challenges, either. “We are all stressed because of the time we missed. It’s as if we are walking through fog trying to find our way out.” Despite the challenges that may come with playing sports again, West’s athletes are ecstatic to get the chance to do what they are passionate about once more. “I believe I can speak for all athletes at JTHS, we are happy to be back.” 

Sophomore Avery Kittl is also an athlete at Joliet West. She ran Cross Country this past fall, and is planning on playing on the soccer team this spring. Her concerns lie within her teammates getting sick, which would cause the whole team to suffer. “What students will do outside of sports is out of our hands, “she explains. “I just hope everyone continues to follow the rules so other athletes can continue to do what we all love, sports!” Overall, students are grateful to be back in sports, despite the challenges they may face playing during a global pandemic. 

Students, teachers, and coaches alike have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With sports being able to return in Illinois, high school athletes may view this as a light at the end of the tunnel.