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The Examiner U-46 News Feed

U-46 coaches hopeful while waiting to resume


By Seth Hancock
  It’s not uncommon for spring sports coaches to have to scramble to find makeup dates for games as weather, especially early in the season, often forces a multitude of cancellations.
  However, it’s not cold weather or rain and snow shutting athletics down this year, it’s COVID-19, a foreign-born strain of the coronavirus which originated in Wuhan, China.
  “It’s crazy, not only from the sports aspect but also we’re not able to go out to a restaurant or catch a movie,” said Streamwood baseball coach Dan Jennings. “I’m used to the weather not always cooperating, but this is much different. It’s weird to think that just a couple weeks ago we were out on the field getting ready. Obviously, the wellbeing of us as a country and really globally, this is what we have to do but it’s just weird.”
  “This is something much different than we’ve ever had to deal with before,” said Bartlett coach Vince Revak. “Now, we have a spring where the weather seems very compatible for playing, and we get hit with a virus.”
  The IHSA currently states April 8 is the “target date” for games and practices to start up after Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s most recent pronouncement ordering all schools, public and private, and large swaths of the private sector to be shutdown over the panic, but the situation remains fluid with little to no standards being given on when things can open up again. Originally, the date for a return to more normalcy was March 31.
  Prior to the governor’s first edict, the IHSA made a decision on its own to cancel the remainder of the winter season cutting tournaments short. St. Charles North’s boys basketball team was one of the victims of that decision as it advanced to the sectional finals and held a program best 24-9 record.
  “This is bigger than basketball and we all have to respect the decision to do what is best for us all,” North coach Tom Poulin said at the time. “As far as basketball goes, it’s heartbreaking to think that our guys can't continue in the tournament.”
  The fate of spring sports is still up in the air. Some coaches are remaining fully optimistic that a season, albeit likely shortened, will take place, but others express at least a tinge of pessimism.
  When speaking to Glenbard North baseball coach Rich Smelko for his team’s preview, he said “I’ll be honest, I hope we have a season right now,” but Panthers volleyball coach Dedra DeBenedetti was fully optimistic saying her team is “looking forward to having a 2020 season.” South Elgin volleyball coach Adam Plach said: “We honestly don’t know what this season will look like if it even happens.”
  For Jennings and Revak, both are generally remaining positive on the fate of the season.
  “I am, and the reason I say that is we’re getting a lot of updates,” Jennings said when asked if he thinks there will be season. He said he gets constant updates from the school district and individual schools as well as from the IHSA which he said has suggested the possibility of allowing a few extra weeks of competition through the summer.
  Revak said he’s “cautiously optimistic” but did note the fluidity as Chicago Public School District has already closed schools through April 28 on its own. He said he hopes the season does take place especially for seniors, and he said he’s in communication with his players and coaches through email and phone calls and he’s encouraging them to stay in shape on their own to prepare for the season.
  “When the news first came out, a lot of the girls were really bummed we weren’t going to get to play, at least not for a while,” Revak said. “We talk to the team and they know how I and coach (Anthony) Glorioso feel about the situation. Priority number one is to stay safe and stay healthy, and priority number two is to stay positive and stay in shape and ready for the season because we could start school up and we’re playing that day, just like that.”
  Revak added: “I think the important thing for all athletes to remember is that through all of these current restrictions, there’s nothing stopping you from working out on your own. You can still go outside and run some laps, and important for soccer is to just get some touches on some balls.”
  Jennings is a teacher in Huntley while he is entering his first season coaching Streamwood’s baseball team. He said he’s “communicating almost daily” with the players through social media, email and phone. Jennings has already been able to get to know the players pretty well as he started open gyms prior to Thanksgiving.
  “As a new coach, it really was about developing those relationships early,” Jennings said. “We had about two weeks of this season in with practices and tryouts before everything was shut down, so I’m glad I’ve been able to do that so far at least.”

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