The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met for their April meeting via a video conference call on Tuesday, April 21, where the Board of Directors announced its decision to cancel all IHSA spring state tournaments. The decision to cancel the spring state tournaments comes in conjunction with Friday’s (April 17) announcement by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education that all Illinois high schools will complete the 2019-20 school term from home via e-learning.
“We support the decision by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education, and given the logistics, we simply felt we could not conduct state tournaments that meet the expectations of our member schools this spring, “ said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson.
“As disappointing as it may be for students, it is the right decision for their health and safety, as well as for the health and safety of the general public, as we cope with this unprecedented pandemic.”
Jared Vanausdoll, ALAH Athletic Director stated, “With the news of the cancellation of Spring Sports from the IHSA the coaches and I are disheartened and feel sad for our student athletes. It was expected and prepared for as the coaches and I have been meeting every week on a google hangout to discuss updates and plan for what we could do each week.”
“We have a great group of dedicated coaches that were excited about the opportunities for our students this spring. We felt as if we had an opportunity to be competitive and possibly win four conference championships this spring with the talent we had as well as the preparation our students have put into training for this spring,” he said.
Vanausdoll added, “I want to thank all the coaches, athletes, parents and everyone involved with our athletic programs for handling this situation with a great sense of understanding. It has made this nightmare easier to handle and process,”
“We will continue to follow guidelines presented to us, however, I have no doubt our athletes and coaches won’t miss a beat and will be ready when given the opportunity to compete again,” he said. “We love our student athletes and will miss this group of seniors that have dedicated so much time and energy in preparing for this season. We wish them the best of luck in whatever they pursue!”
The IHSA offers state tournaments in the following sports and activities in the spring: Girls Badminton, Boys Gymnastics, Bass Fishing, Boys & Girls Track & Field, Boys & Girls Water Polo, Girls Soccer, Boys Tennis, Boys & Girls Lacrosse, Boys Volleyball, Baseball, and Softball.
The Board also determined that summer contact days are suspended for this year, unless state government and medical leaders indicate such gatherings are safe. At that time, the Board indicated a willingness to reconsider how summer contact might be conducted and whether opportunities for schools to conduct some kind of spring athletic events might occur.
“Once it is determined safe to return, we will provide a detailed outline to our schools on the plan for summer contact days and possibly some kind of spring athletic events,” said Anderson. “Including if the number of days and dates that coaches can meet with athletes has been altered. At this point, though, all that is dependent upon state government and medical leaders giving the go ahead for such.”
“Our thoughts right now are with all the impacted students, coaches and communities. Especially the seniors,” said Anderson. “It will be difficult for them to find a silver lining in all of this, but we stress that even if they don’t get the chance to compete again at the high school level, they are better for having been a part of their respective high school teams. By participating in high school sports and activities, they were exposed to life lessons in teamwork, leadership, and overcoming adversity that are difficult to replicate elsewhere. The latter is applicable now more than ever. We hope that we can band together and refocus all our efforts on supporting the doctors, nurses, first responders, and all the other essential personnel who are putting their health and safety on the line each day to keep us safe.”
The IHSA will continue to communicate with and monitor briefings from state officials, and based on those timelines, provide updates to its member schools as it relates to potential spring participation and summer contact days.
“The possibility of playing a spring sport game this summer is about closure,” said Anderson. “If we are able to offer this opportunity, no student-athlete would be restricted by having already practiced or competed with a non-school team.”