Postponed: Sports Highlights from a Year Like No Other

Bruno Carrillo, Staff Writer

The coronavirus has affected us all in our day to day lives, but how has it affected school sports? At Oak Forest High School, we have many sports, ranging from football to golf to swimming to even lacrosse. Each sport is different in its level of contact and potential spread of COVID-19. We have full contact sports such as football and soccer, lower-contact sports like baseball, and even no-contact sports such as tennis, bowling, and golf.

The fall season was a strange one. Some sports had their seasons with limitations, while others saw their seasons canceled or postponed. Boys’ and girls’ cross country had an amazing season with the boys’ team going undefeated amongst the district teams. Girls’ swim and dive also had a season with fewer meets than in a normal year. While girls’ swim and dive along with tennis and some others had seasons, unfortunately, our Friday night football games were canceled. The football and boys’ soccer seasons were postponed to the spring. As a soccer player myself, this came as good and bad news. I was very excited to play after a long summer, but at least we will still be able to play in the spring. Postponed sports are set to start up some time around February.

As of now, we are in the winter season of sports. This season includes boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ swim and dive, and bowling. Mr. Manzke, head of the boys basketball team, said that this is “an unusual basketball season for sure.” There hasn’t been much from IHSA, but Mr. Manzke believes that we will have a season this year, “although it’s going to look different.” Along with Mr. Manzke, the swim coach, Mr. DaLuga, believes we will have a season. Both the boys’ basketball team and the boys’ swim team have been holding virtual practices to keep their athletes in shape. I was informed in practice that IHSA will be having a meeting with state officials to make a decision on the big question: will there be a winter sports season? 

Right now, both teams are ready to begin competing as soon as they are told that they can. If IHSA deems it safe to compete, sports would start up again right away. I know that the rest of the swimmers and I are anticipating the first meet of the season. Although there will most likely not be a state meet, this year will be good practice to prepare our underclassmen to qualify for State. The loss of a state meet is a major downside for our senior diver and my teammate, Tommy Florek. Tommy has gone from getting low scores to qualifying and ranking 34th in the state: a huge improvement that came from his own hard work and determination. For seniors like him, this is the last season of their high school careers. Having a season would obviously be better for them than missing out entirely.

Hopefully, we can begin the new year with some good news. With a crazy 2020 coming to a close, getting to have a sports season would be a great start to the new year. Of course, these sports would have to abide by new rules and guidelines, but it would truly bring some joy into our lives. Many people use sports as a way to release stress and cope with emotions, so bringing sports back could benefit us mentally, emotionally, and physically. All we can do is wait and see what state officials and IHSA decide.