As IHSA Restrictions Ease, Friars Return to Play

     The great Michael Jordan once said, “If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it.” For Fenwick High School and the country, COVID became a wall that the school has had to climb. On November 19, 2020, that wall got a whole lot taller when Governor Pritzker scaled the state back to Tier 3 mitigations and paused all IHSA sports.  Each team was able to start their seasons in some regard, but many were cut short. According to senior Adrian Delatorre, the players had been practicing since early summer for the boys’ basketball team. Once November came, however, they had to adapt. Since then, the coaches have been doing one on one conditioning sessions with the players. Adrian, like his teammates, was very eager to get back on the court. “We will do whatever it takes to be able to play ball again,” he said. “Family goes through hardship, and this pandemic is our test from God to learn how to come together and adapt.” 

     As of January 22 and the announcement of Illinois’ turn to Tiers 1 and 2 (depending on the region), all sports have thankfully have resumed in a limited capacity. 

     All players have had difficulties sticking together and bonding through their physical separation, but the girls’ basketball team has found a new way to adapt. According to Ms. Power, the team has been using an app called Marco Polo to stay engaged. Marco Polo has allowed the coaches and players to share their workouts and stay connected, allowing them to motivate each other. Ms. Power is encouraged by how the app has been working and the players’ attitudes, stating that “They have been so great, engaged and optimistic. We are proud of their attitude, work ethic, and camaraderie throughout this all.”

     Boys’ swimming only got a week of practice in, and according to senior Caden Gierstorf, the shutdown was “really disappointing and surprising.” Since then, they’ve met on Zoom a few times a week to check in with Coach Thompson. Coach Thompson is the newly hired Aquatics Director, and Caden says he “has done a really good job of making sure everybody felt a part of the team while we waited for the season to resume.” Each senior has also been assigned a group of underclassmen to check in with. They have since returned to practice and may begin virtual meets. 

     Poms has also had to resort to full remote practices, but it was nothing the team wasn’t already used to. Since the beginning of the year, they had been doing Zoom practices and some in-person ones. They now meet solely on Zoom, and, according to senior Paulina Harnisch, it’s nothing the girls can’t handle. “We are all happy it is an option for us. We do our best with it,” she said. They have virtual competitions scheduled for January and February, where they are planning to film their routine in person, wearing masks, and then send the video to the judges.

     Illinois’ long-awaited return to play has been a complicated one. Coach Thies shed some light on their decision making, stating that “the state has classified each sport as High, Medium or Low-level risk. Using that, the state will determine the level of activity in each sport based on the state’s current conditions.” 

     Fenwick’s student-athletes have shown time and time again that they can adapt and climb the walls that arise in front of them, and this is no exception. As practices resume, it is only a matter of time until we can see our Fenwick Friars back on the field again and succeeding, just as they always do.