Since the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors announced on July 29 its intended plans for the 2020-21 school year, athletic directors and coaches from all over Illinois have been scrambling to implement new guidelines.
Monticello activities director Daniel Sheehan has been working nearly nonstop to adjust to the IHSA’s unprecedented scheduling changes for the 2020-21 school year.
The scheduling changes include playing all sports over the course of truncated fall, winter, spring, and summer seasons. The plan has been sent to the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) for final approval.
Football, boys’ soccer, and girls’ volleyball are scheduled to shift from fall to the spring schedules.
To learn as much as possible about the new guidelines, Sheehan participated in a webinar with the IHSA Monday of last week to get a better understanding of the season expectations that have been placed under these circumstance and to get a better understand of what is determined as region.
Tuesday, Sheehan joined an Illini Prairie Conference webinar to discuss several scheduling and guideline matters.
Wednesday, Sheehan was part of an IESA webinar, because a week after announcing the cancellation of multiple junior high fall sports on July 31, IESA Executive Director Steve Endsley informed member schools of a reversal and provided a plan for the entire 2020-21 athletic calendar.
“This will have to look different,” Sheehan said. “Some of the expectations for cross country were that there could be a three team maximum (and no invites). So we’re going to have to be creative to how we do things on how we set up events and tournaments and golf outings and cross country invites and wrestling tournaments.”
Sheehan is digesting all the various information and taking it one step at a time to figure out what is going to be allowed and what is not.
“The challenge is when we’re trying to do what’s best for our kids, trying to make things work,” Sheehan said, “we also have to take into account our conference schools. What is okay here may look different in Chillicothe. We’re (trying to make) sure that their kids are safe and our kids are safe and that we’re all on the same page, really working together to find our kids.”
The tentative dates for fall sports are August 10 to October 24, which schedules for girls’ and boys’ golf, cross country and girls’ swimming and diving.
Winter sports from November 16 to February 13 are scheduled to include boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ swim and diving, cheerleading, dance, bowling and gymnastics.
Spring sports from February 15 to May 1 are scheduled to include football, boys’ soccer, volleyball, badminton, boys’ gymnastics and water polo.
The summer sports from May 3 to June 26 are scheduled to include baseball, softball, boys’ and girls track and field, girls’ soccer, boys’ volleyball, lacrosse and boy’s tennis.
Sheehan is checking to see if there is a potential scheduling with coaches who are coaching more than one team.
Kim Allison is the varsity volleyball coach and the seventh grade coach, and though Sheehan does not think the seasons will overlap, it will be close.
“We don’t have specific dates of when tournaments are going to be held, if they are held, so there’s still a lot information we haven’t been giving about potential regional play or post season play,” Sheehan said.
Coach Cully Welter may have to go from football straight into track.
“We’re going to have to look at a little bit of everything and all the overlaps,” Sheehan said. “The other thing that comes into play is all the gym space and availabilities to make sure we can have the opportunity for kids to get practicing and follow the guidelines that have been put forth in front of us.”
Sheehan hopes students, parents and coaches can be patient during the process and Sheehan receives and shares information.
“As of right now, no schedule is guaranteed,” Sheehan said. “We’re reworking those and will get them shared as soon as we can. We’re going to our best to try to have opportunities for our kids to have an opportunity to compete.”
“This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Changes may come, and if they do, we will be agile while putting safety and students first. It was important that we provide a framework today for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and officials to begin preparing for the 2020-21 school year.”