While not 100 percent uniform regulations, preps making successful return

  • Maine West High School freshmen start their race inside a fenced perimeter at the D207 boys cross country race at Maine South High School Tuesday. The three high schools started their races two minutes apart to maximize social distancing efforts. Spectators were not allowed inside the fence.

      Maine West High School freshmen start their race inside a fenced perimeter at the D207 boys cross country race at Maine South High School Tuesday. The three high schools started their races two minutes apart to maximize social distancing efforts. Spectators were not allowed inside the fence. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles East's second doubles player Caroline Donati returns a backhand as partner Smita Dhar watches Saturday during a match against Geneva's Karolina Schubert and Julie Drew. The Saints have a policy of no spectators at events this fall while Geneva has a section for parents to watch at their home matches.

      St. Charles East's second doubles player Caroline Donati returns a backhand as partner Smita Dhar watches Saturday during a match against Geneva's Karolina Schubert and Julie Drew. The Saints have a policy of no spectators at events this fall while Geneva has a section for parents to watch at their home matches. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/26/2020 12:31 PM

Geneva parents who wanted to watch their daughters play tennis in a season-opening match at St. Charles East on Saturday found themselves with a new vantage point.

In their cars, from the parking lot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It might not have been the best view but that's part of the era we are in during the early stages of high school sports returning.

There's a lot that's, well, weird.

And that's just the word St. Charles East coach Matt Bulman used.

"Super weird but the kids are doing a really good job responding to it," Bulman said. "It's uncomfortable. It's awkward. Even when we have our normal pre-meet when we talk to opponents, it's strange. It's different. We actually had a practice match in practice yesterday just so we could feel the awkwardness and get it out of the way."

There's a lot that's new for everyone playing high school sports, the ones like tennis that were deemed low-risk in the new guidelines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Assuming everyone is contagious. Not picking up your opponent's tennis ball, staying six feet away at all times. It's less personal," Bulman said. "It's almost the player you are playing against is contaminated and you have that sense in your mind. Usually there's some camaraderie even cross river, we'll talk to each other, we hit in the offseason together. Now we have to stay isolated from each other and it's almost like the other person is not there."

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All the new rules and regulations also have led to some inconsistencies from school to school, conference to conference, district to district.

That's how Batavia and Geneva parents can watch their kids play tennis at home matches but not when they play at St. Charles East or St. Charles North, who are not allowing spectators.

"So many contradictions," Batavia coach Brad Nelson said. "If it gets too full (at our home meets) we will have to start sending people home but the way our courts are set up we have seven courts in a row with a long line of fence and a lot of room. We designate areas that are players only. Hopefully that will work."

Vikings coach Zach Nelson said Geneva is doing the same.

"We have a section put off for parents to come watch," Evans said. "There are no expectations, you have to wear a face mask and social distance."

There's a handful of other contradictions. Golfers have varied in how often they wear masks during their rounds.

Another is the way athletes get to the event -- some in minibuses, some the big yellow buses and others driving themselves or getting a ride from their parents to better social distance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Sending our boys golf teams on yellow buses is a change for us as they always used our white buses," Glenbard South athletic director Tim Carlson said. "Coaches in sports like that are now having to report bus times to the athletic office rather than having the freedom to go as they please. That has been an adjustment."

Carlson said they have started encouraging athletes and families to drive themselves.

Glenbard South also is getting ready for a big change in the cross country season when the Raiders host nine meets on their campus.

"That will be a new one for us," Carlson said. "It certainly has been interesting figuring everything out."

Schaumburg athletic director Marty Manning said the variety of ways teams got to events also came up in years before COVID.

With most of their contests against other Mid-Suburban League teams so far, the guidelines for fans and procedures are similar.

Manning said there is plenty of learning on the fly for every AD, pointing to a current example of figuring out how to conduct warm-ups during swim meets.

"As the season moves along I may notice more contradictions when we play some nonconference teams that are still within our COVID region," Manning said. "As we work to follow IHSA/IDPH guidelines and try to make our competitions as safe as possible, we are working through setting up our own competition guidelines. There's obviously a lot of discussion of what's the best way to proceed within the IHSA/IDPH guidance among coaches and ADs, but I'm sure we'll also be tweaking our own guidelines throughout the season as we learn what is the best way moving forward."

Whatever variance there's been, everyone involved is using a little extra patience, grace and understanding, happy to be back competing again.

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