Contact Days Months Before the Season- Worth It or Not?


Track and Field Black and Blue Meet on October 6, 2020 (Lilly Dye, Junior)

Laure Schulders, Staff Writer

When school shifted to remote learning in March, sports had to adjust as well. All practices, meets, games and events were cancelled until further notice. Since then, teams have been looking for ways to safely meet up and practice. 

School sports fall under the regulation of the IHSA, so official gatherings need to be permitted by the IHSA. In the fall, once Illinois was in Phase four of the reopening plan, steps were taken to begin sports again. 

Each sport was given a maximum of 20 practices to use within a certain window of time–referred to as contact days.

“We weren’t quite able to get in 20 in due to the weather, we got 15 in,” said Todd Genke, head baseball coach.

In-season sports were allowed to have meets and games in addition to contact days, though post-seasons were cut short. Girls swim and dive, boys and girls cross country, girls tennis and boys and girls golf were all able to compete. 

Other fall sports, including football, were pushed back to a different season.

Because of the sudden shutdown, many spring sports were cut short or cancelled entirely.

“As far as baseball goes, we didn’t have a season at all last year,” said Nick DeMarco, senior. 

Instead, practices for spring sports were pushed back to fall, without games or meets. Some official seasons aren’t scheduled to take place until spring or summer.

The limited amount of contact days meant only a few were held every week, rather than daily. However, because of the schedule changes, it could mean overlapping for athletes in multiple sports.

“Some of the football guys had contact days for both sports on the same day,” said DeMarco.

Fall contact days mostly resembled normal practices, with a few key differences for safety reasons. Masks needed to be worn, and social distancing was practiced. 

“We would clean the high jump equipment in between people,” said Lilly Dye, junior.

These regulations could pose a challenge during exercises, and as a result, activities sometimes took longer.

“We did keep in consideration a lot of the running recovery times with the masks,” said Kathryn Mehalic, girls track and field coach.

Between contact days and the official season start date, athletes are practicing independently to stay in shape during the gap.

“The expectation is that they’re going to do a lot more things on their own to prepare,” said Genke.

Some coaches are making programs or recommending exercises for during the break.

“A couple of the girls are asking for specific workouts sent to them,” said Mehalic. “There’s still the myriad of workouts that are posted on our old Google Classroom page.

“In addition to being physically helpful, it was definitely nice to get to see some of the people that I otherwise wouldn’t be seeing outside of school,” said Dye, bringing up another benefit.

Despite the challenges, athletes and coaches alike are still grateful for the chance to have the contact days.

“Having this time this fall was really important and really essential to us,” said Genke.