No summer games could be a good thing
In any ordinary year Lake Park's Emma Thorne might go right from high school basketball season to soccer season to a summer filled with both.
This is no ordinary year, of course, and Thorne has had much more rest than usual.
"My body feels really great right now just from doing the workouts that I've been doing with running and lifting and core," said Thorne, a rising senior. "And usually in past summers you can kind of feel it hitting you a little bit. Your ankles start to hurt. Old injuries start to pop up again, just bothering you. But I think this has been really good just to let my body heal and not push it too hard.
"But now that it's summertime I'm definitely ready to start getting back out there and working out a bit more and practicing."
The extra rest is a benefit to the unscheduled stop in summer games and camps. To some it's a reason to keep a reduced schedule in place even after the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think that's one of the blessings in this whole process," Lake Park girls basketball coach Brian Rupp said. "Who says that 40 games in a summer is good for you? If you're going to use this time wisely and get in the best shape you've ever been in and work on your skills tirelessly, this could be actually a really good thing for us where you're not beat up all the time."
Rupp had planned to cut back on the Lancers' summer camp, to two weeks from four weeks. He also planned to enter the Lancers in just one or two summer shootouts instead of a full summer league.
As Illinois schools have begun voluntary conditioning drills under state health guidelines, Rupp, a physical education teacher, sees conditioning and skill work as a better way to go in the future. As far as games go, less might be more.
One reason is the rest could help prevent injuries, especially season-ending knee injuries.
Another is burnout.
"I know that everyone that plays AAU says they love AAU, but I guarantee there's moments when they're like, man, we've got to play another game. Let's just go home," Rupp said. "And I don't care if we win or lose, let's just go home. And at that point I don't know how you're growing."
Fremd rising senior Jack Walsh said a busy summer schedule of football and basketball is tiring.
"As the season goes on you get pretty tired and a little worn down. If we get start practices in August we'll be really fresh," he said.
That doesn't mean he would change anything, however.
"I like to be always doing something," he said, adding he likes spending time at camps with his friends.
Because Lake Park went downstate in girls basketball, with Thorne playing heavy minutes each game, she took a week off from soccer tryouts to rest in March. That happened to be the week all sports were suspended, so she never did practice with the Lancers soccer team.
"I don't think it's been bad for me. I just miss the whole team aspect of the game. I'm not sure if my body does, though," Thorne said. "Once it comes back around I will be ready for sure. No doubt in my mind. Waiting for that day, but patiently because lots we can do while we can't be together."