Fall sports are coming to an end after a very eventful and convoluted season. Sports such as swimming, diving, tennis, and cross country have been able to have a season filled with competitions thanks to being low contact activities. These sports have just ended their seasons with some very successful championship events. However, many changes, regulations, and limits had to be put in place in order for these events to occur safely.
The swim season has had a very different look this year. Small practice groups
have been put into place to ensure that there were only three swimmers in each lane. The amount of swimmers at each meet were limited, and only dual meets took place. Despite a different look to the season, the swimmers were able to compete against 13 other teams at Sectionals, which took place at Whitney Young. However, organizing this event to be safe was no easy task. Each team had to “camp out” in a designated area in one of the gymnasiums. No one was allowed to be on deck unless they were swimming, and spectators were limited to watching from their mobile devices, through a livestream of the competition. “The meet certainly looked a lot different than last year. It was strange not being able to cheer on my teammates, and the deck was so quiet and empty before the races. I remember last year it was so crowded and loud. It was organized really well though, and the meet ran very smoothly and everyone was safe. I’m sure it took a lot of planning! I’m just thankful we were able to have championship meets, even if they looked a lot different,” says Sonya Ko ‘23.
In the wider world of swimming, officials are brainstorming procedures and systems in order to have big swimming competitions occur. Tokyo Olympic officials have developed wrist stickers that can measure body temperature! “Stickers will be placed on spectators, athletes, coaches and officials’ wrists before entering the various Olympic venues next summer. If the temperature shown surpasses 98.6ºF (37ºC), the stickers will flash red, forbidding the individual from entering the facility”, explains swimswam, a source for all swimming news.
The Diving team also recently had their city and sectional championships which had some changes in order to keep everyone safe, but it looked pretty much the same since it is a highly individual sport. “Diving championship meets run very differently than swim since the total number of divers is so much smaller, even at a meet like sectionals, where only 2 divers per team are allowed and some teams don’t have divers. Because of this, we can all be on deck during the whole meet while still maintaining social distancing guidelines. I felt pretty safe throughout the meet because everyone wore a mask during stretches before the actual meet and after during the awards, and paid attention to maintaining distance throughout. I think given the circumstances, the diving championship meets ran smoothly while ensuring that everyone felt safe,” explained diver Larissa Gosslau ‘22, who placed 1st at both the city and sectional championships.
The cross country team also recently had their City and Regional Championships. Similar to swimming, these competitions have lost the crowded aspects that were so iconic in years past. No spectators were allowed, athletes had to arrive at a certain time and leave at a designated time after their race to limit the number of people at the course. Races had a limited amount of runners and the meet was a lot smaller and quieter than usual. “Things did look a lot different this year. I miss cheering on my teammates and being able to celebrate with them after a race, it was such an integral part of meets. But despite that, I’m so glad to have been able to have a senior season and run regardless, I know other sports aren’t as lucky,” explained Marley Kravitz ‘21. Times Herald explains how cross country looked a lot different this year, “You’re not allowed inside the boundaries of the course. In fact, you’re not allowed to even leave the parking lot unless it’s to exit the event entirely. Your child will warm up for their race, run a socially-distanced course, cross the finish line and then trot immediately back to your car. There’s no trophy ceremony. You need to leave the property immediately.” Although things ran a lot differently this season, athletes are grateful to have had a season and to have been able to compete with their friends.
With the fall season of sports coming to a close, winter sports are anxiously awaiting news as to how, and if, their seasons will occur. Winter sports are higher contact sports than those in the fall, but athletes and coaches are doing everything they can to try to make a safe season happen. Whitney Young Boys Basketball Coach Slaughter commented in a Chicago Sun Times article about winter sports, “It’s likely going to require a lot of flexibility for everyone,” Slaughter said. ‘I know that we will all do whatever is required. We know it may mean programs practicing on rotating days. Weekends and early in the morning before remote learning may be a part of it”’. Winter sports athletes, coaches, and families are anxious to hear what IHSA and CPS decides on the operation of their seasons.
Despite changes and difficulties, athletes are making the most of what they are offered, and are all so grateful for any opportunities to compete and participate in their beloved sports.