Remote learning creates unique situation for athletes

  • Madi Dohrn works on her school work as part of her remote learning at Schaumburg. The junior also swims for the Saxons, arriving at school at 3 p.m. for practice.

    Madi Dohrn works on her school work as part of her remote learning at Schaumburg. The junior also swims for the Saxons, arriving at school at 3 p.m. for practice. Courtesy of Madi Dohrn

  • Matt Lesniak, a senior golfer at Lake Park, will be doing remote learning until at least Sept. 22.

    Matt Lesniak, a senior golfer at Lake Park, will be doing remote learning until at least Sept. 22. Courtesy of Matt Lesniak

Updated 9/1/2020 3:47 PM

When the idea started of fall high school sports returning while students stayed home for remote learning, it caused some questions about the fairness.

It's not safe enough for our kids to go to school but you are going to let others play tennis and golf, run cross country and swim?


For the athletes who are now two to three weeks into being a remote learner and a varsity athlete, they sure are thankful that decision was made.

"That's a valid viewpoint but at the same time I think especially with tennis if we take the proper precautions there's a lower risk and we are able to see people, socialize and fulfill the social aspect of our lives," Jacobs junior tennis player Isha Desai said. "I definitely think there's need for caution but at the same time with sports like tennis where you can social distance it can be a benefit for many."

That certainly is how Madi Dohrn, a junior at Schaumburg, views it.

After starting her day at her desk in her room at 7:30 a.m., she is more than ready when the clock hits 3 p.m. and she drives to school for swim practice.

"I get that some people think you can't be in school and you can have sports? But it helps so many people kind of get through the day," Dohrn said.

"It gives my teammates a sense of normalcy and work toward something and that helps us a lot get through. We don't want to sit at our desks all day staring at an iPad. Practice has allowed getting to see your teammates faces because you are alone in your room for a good portion of the day."

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Matt Lesniak, a senior at Lake Park, has a summer job that any golfer would envy as a caddie at Medinah Country Club.

Lesniak loves the job not just because of golf but it's a natural fit for his gift of gab. That outgoing part of his personality doesn't fit with remote learning, making his afternoons back on the golf course with his teammates even more meaningful.

"I love talking to people and being around people all the time, so remote learning, it's definitely nice and refreshing to be around our team, to be in front of each other and talk, socially distanced of course," Lesniak said.

Lake Park is fully remote until Sept. 22 when they will reevaluate. Lesniak, who will play collegiate golf at Wabash in Crawfordsville, Ind., starts his school day at 8:05 a.m. His eighth hour is a study hall, so Lesniak can leave home at 2:20 p.m. and get to the course while teammates with an eighth hour class finish at 3 p.m. and then go to practice.

Making the most of it

Lesniak is trying to make the most of learning at home.

"It's all learning on your own pretty much, and really I feel this could be beneficial to me because in college you are going to be learning by yourself," Lesniak said. "It's kind of teaching myself this year so next year is not as much of a struggle."


Dohrn has been online learning at Schaumburg since Aug. 13. Her days aren't quite as long, starting class at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 12:15 p.m. with an A block of classes one day and B block the next.

Dohrn gets to the high school at 3 p.m. for practice -- always a highlight of her day but even more this year.

"My teammates and I are very thankful to administrators, coaches and trainers, everyone who worked so hard to give us a season," Dohrn said. "We know we are very fortunate to participate. When I heard we were going to have a season that was a big stress reliever for me. Having a season has been amazing because it has helps socially, mentally and physically and helped me focus back in on my goals athletically."

Those goals include swimming in college. Dohrn was busy in the Saxons' first meet of the year last Friday against Barrington when she swam the 200 free, 50 free, 100 free and 100 back.

Relays have been eliminated in swimming this year because of the new IHSA guidelines. There also are no longer varsity, JV and freshman races at the same time -- two changes that have made Dohrn's meets go by a lot quicker.

"A few of us were exhausted doing the events in such a quick succession," Dohrn said.

At Jacobs, Desai is also on an A/B schedule. Her remote days go from 7:30 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. one day and 7:30 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. the next.

She works on her Chromebook at her home desk until at least mid-October when District 300 will decide how to proceed.

For Desai, it's working well balancing the unique circumstances of classes at home and tennis at school. She gets a temperature check and wears her mask when she arrives for practice.

"I like the workload because I think it's a little more manageable with online school," Desai said. "Time management and balance between school and tennis is better. Honestly I think it's going pretty smoothly so far and not too many challenges with it."

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