By James Kay
Since the spring sports season came to a halt a few months ago, the IHSA has been working with the state to figure out how to get athletes back on the field. Two weeks ago, the IHSA released its Return to Play guidelines that allowed athletes to participate in strength and conditioning workouts.
However, the guidelines had stated that athletic programs needed permission from the school before teams could partake in these workouts. In a conversation last week with RBHS' assistant principal of athletics, Brendan Curtin, he said that the school has approved guidelines similar to what was outlined by the IHSA.
"The IHSA allows you to work out for three hours and we're capping our [workouts] at approximately 90 minutes," said Curtin. "There are a lot of kids that have been disciplined and doing the right things to stay in shape, but it can take a little bit of a longer period to get the other student athletes to where they need to be to push them for upward mobility, if you will."
Curtin added that he and other coaches felt it was important to keep intensity of workouts to a "minimum" early on so that the athletes can get back in shape.
The 90-minute workouts are also a way for more teams to get into the weight room or on the field since they create more time in the day for teams to practice. Curtin has created a Google spreadsheet to coordinate times in which teams can use certain spaces without having overlap with each other.
"It's been pretty smooth so far," said Curtin. "Coaches can walk in and pick a time. We can double up two programs at one time since one group can be on the football field and the other is using the weight room. If there's a schedule conflict, we will try to rectify that as quickly as we can but it's been good."
While all sports will have the opportunity to work out during this time, multi-sport athletes have been instructed to participate in workouts for their fall sport teams. The athletes also had to sign a waiver before participating in the workouts.
Even with all of the nuances and difficulties that come with planning out a workout schedule during a pandemic, getting back to work brings a certain normalcy athletes and coaches have lacked in recent months.
"It was great being back on the field," said Curtin, who is also RBHS' varsity football coach. "You could tell the kids were excited to be back in each other's presence and be back on the field. That was fulfilling. There's always that electricity in the air when it's the first day of being back together, even if it is strength and conditioning workouts."
Fenwick cancels Ireland trip
With the global outbreak of COVID-19 now lingering into summer, Fenwick High School's football program will not be traveling to Dublin, Ireland on Aug. 28 like it initially planned earlier in January.
The Friars were set to play Scottsdale, Arizona's Notre Dame Prep during a trip organized by the school.
"As time moved on, it was inevitable that the trip would be canceled," said Fenwick's athletic director, Scott Thies, in an interview last week. "It was just a matter of communicating with the players' families, the organizing group and the travel company and ending it in a proper manner but we knew that once the winter and spring sport seasons were canceled that it was going to be tough to make this work."
The showcase was to have included two days in Dublin (Aug. 26-27) along with the players being in attendance for the matchup between Navy and University of Notre Dame at the Aviva Stadium on Aug. 29. That game has also been canceled.
Junior wide receiver Max Reese and his teammates understood the decision but were hoping for a different outcome.
"[Finding out the news] stunk," said Reese in a phone interview. "The whole team was looking forward to Ireland, experiencing the Irish culture and being able to play Notre Dame Prep. But we have a good week one game against a very talented Simeon team, so we are focused on that."