DANVILLE — In a year where every decision is unprecedented, the Illinois Elementary School Association reversed course on Friday.
One week after announcing their plans to cancel all fall sports, and then the subsequent announcement by Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday, the IESA Board of Directors held a special meeting on Friday where they re-instituted the fall seasons for baseball, softball, along with boys and girls cross country and boys and girls golf.
Steve Endsley, executive director of the IESA, which governs middle school and junior high athletics, admitted that neither he nor the board like to reverse their decisions.
“In this case, the Board believed the information that became available after their initial decision on July 23 warranted a review of that decision,’’ Endsley said. “Ultimately, the Board approved the resumption of a regular season in the sports deemed lower risk and a plan for the remainder of the school year.’’
Baseball, cross country, golf and softball were all sports in the lower risk level of Pritzker’s guidelines for youth and adult recreational sports during the novel coronavirus. Under our conditions, those sports are allowed competition within its conference or region.
“After hearing the Governor’s news conference on Wednesday and the IHSA announcement, I thought this might happen,’’ said Michael Grant, athletics director at Bismarck-Henning Junior High. “But, I was a little shocked that they were able to reverse course, so quickly.’’
According to the IESA announcement, practices may begin on Monday but the first contests cannot be held until Saturday, Aug. 15, as mandated by Pritzker’s guidelines.
Additionally, the IESA is suggesting to schools to limit their travel, as much as possible, to less than 30 miles.
“Having the ability to compete this fall is good news, so we are going to comply and follow the guidelines,’’ Grant said. “Thankfully, I think all of the teams in our league (Three Rivers Conference) are within 30 miles as it North Ridge St. Joseph, two of our non-conference opponents.’’
Not everything will be returning to its normal routines.
While baseball and softball teams will be allowed to games, large cross country invitationals will not necessarily meet the Pritzker guidelines.
“That’s a very important sport,’’ Grant said. “So, we will have to see what kind of meets we can have.’’
In additional to allowing the fall sports to be played this year, the IESA Board also approved modified seasons with sectional-only golf tournament on Sept. 9, baseball and softball regionals are scheduled for the week of Sept. 21 and sectional-only cross country tournament sometime between Oct. 10-17.