Local coaches, AD's respond to IHSA 'Return to Play' guidelines

Published: Jun. 5, 2020 at 10:51 PM CDT
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The wait is over for high school athletes as the door is finally opening for them to rejoin their teams, but summer practices, at least in the beginning, will not look like they have in the past.

"I think the important thing is there is a slow progression back and this is a great first step," said Rockford Public Schools Director of Athletics Mat Parker.

Stage one of the IHSA's 'Return to Play' plan begins on Saturday, but many teams will not be back on the field until next week. Parker says they are putting together a strategy of their own.

"It's safety first and using our creativity, we've got great coaches and awesome athletic directors, there's lots of different things that we can do," said Parker. "But the important thing is that we're getting back together."

There are a lot of moving parts to work around.

Sport-specific drills are not allowed and instead the focus will be on strength and conditioning.

Groups are limited to 10 including coaches and masks must be worn if social distancing cannot be maintained and temperature checks will be done daily.

Parker says this will set teams back.

"Everybody is behind now because it's been so limited as far as what you can do," said Parker.

"It might be frustrating and things might be slow the first couple of days just getting into the groove of it, but the kids are chomping at the bit," said Aquin football head coach Broc Kundert. "They're bored, they want something to do so something is better than nothing."

Kundert says their plan is ready to go and lifting could begin as early as Monday. He says the Bulldogs have some high hopes for this season and it would be a shame if the pandemic were to ruin that.

"If COVID breaks out like crazy again because of this, we're in trouble for the fall season," said Kundert. "But if we can get to a point where it's steadily going down and people are getting their antibodies back, then I think we're set up for a pretty fun 2020 season."