DANVILLE — The Illinois High School Association announced Return to Play Guidelines two weeks ago with the requirement that all schools must have approval from its local officials and their respective school boards.
On Wednesday, the Danville District 118 School Board approved the IHSA guidelines, 5-2, thus allowing Danville students to begin working out on Monday, June 22.
“Our school board had a lot of really good questions for me before they were going to approve this,’’ said Mark Bacys, athletics director at Danville High. “We made sure that they knew we had a plan in place for all possibilities.’’
Athletes will be required to have a signed waiver on file with the school, they must go through a medical check before entering the facility, which included having their temperature checked, the workout groups will be limited to just nine athletes with one coach, all participants will be required to wear facial coverings when not working out and all athletes will be responsible for their own water bottles and towels.
“We have the forms from the IHSA that we must complete before any workout and we have a procedure in place to keep the kids socially distanced upon arriving at the facility, while they are in the facility and when they leave the facility,’’ said Bacys, noting that each group will have a specific workout time. “Anyone that is late will not be allowed to workout, and all athletes will be required to stay in either their vehicle or the vehicle of the person dropping them off until their assigned time.’’
Bacys says that only football and boys soccer will begin workout sessions on Monday, while other sports will be added at a later date to be determined.
On Wednesday, the IHSA sent out a draft to schools about Stage 2 of its Return to Play Guidelines, which still must be approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health and is dependent on each area of the state moving into Phase 4 of Governor J.B. Pritzer’s Restore Illinois plan. The earliest that could happen is June 26 and it would still need approval from the school board.
And while that would be an ideal scenario, Bacys is just happy that Danville has taken this first step.
That’s also the mindset of Danville football coach Marcus Forrest.
“I’m really looking forward to us getting back to work and I can tell you that our kids are anxious to get back to work,’’ Forrest said. “When the IHSA announced the Return to Play Guidelines a couple weeks ago, I had kids contacting me about when we were going to get started.’’
Forrest said he has already started the process.
“I sat down and put together a schedule of our workout plans and then I put together the groups of nine players,’’ he said. “I’ve already started getting the waiver forms to the players, so that they can get them filled out and get back, so that we are ready to go on Monday.’’
While most schools are having to develop new workout plans that don’t include the use of a weight room, Forrest points out that Danville didn’t have the use of weight room last summer during renovations at the school.
“Honestly, we are just going to implement the same things we did last summer,’’ he said. “We did all of our stuff outside at the Wayland-Young complex and that’s what we will do again this summer. Our workouts will focus on body weight exercises, jump ropes, plyometrics, flexibility and basic cardio.
“When last season started, we were in the best shape that we have been in since I’ve been here.’’
And it doesn’t hurt that the results on the field were positive. Danville went 6-4 a year ago, reaching the IHSA Class 6A Playoffs.
“Our kids are excited at the opportunity that we have this year to build upon that success,’’ Forrest said. “They have already start a social media chat with each other. The players are taking leadership in the team, rather than waiting for the coaches. That’s is something you always want as a coach.’’