Sports tryouts resume

Uncertainty looms around impending sports seasons

After the Illinois High School Sports Association’s (IHSA’s) recent announcement for sports to return, high school sports coaches have been left scrambling to fill up their teams.

On Jan. 27, the IHSA released their updated schedule for Illinois sports, revealing that some winter sports could resume immediately, and spring sports would be allowed to begin starting in April. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) approved the schedule.

“The IHSA has provided a statewide season softball start date,” said Head Softball coach Andrew Pickett. “However, there has been no guidance offered by CPS Sports Administration.”

Left with only an assumption that sports will be resuming, some coaches have been struggling to send out efficient methods of communication to prospective athletes.

“This is especially hard this year as we typically spread information through word of mouth, announcements, and posters,” said Derek Bylsma, head coach for the girls soccer team. “We usually have several meetings during the year and typically begin conditioning after winter break.”

Because of the pandemic, teams haven’t been able to prepare for the season under normal circumstances. This has left many athletes- specifically freshmen- without the opportunity to bond with the team and prepare for tryouts.

“I haven’t been able to practice how I usually practice,” said Theo Williams ‘24, a  freshman who plans on trying out for the basketball team. “It’s been quite different.”

Even Williams, who’s been playing basketball competitively since he was 5, has expressed concerns surrounding his ability to make the team. Williams said he has no clue what type of competition he’s up against or what to expect.

“I know a few other [freshmen], but I don’t know how they operate or what I’m going to be competing against for a spot on the team,” said Williams. “I’m kind of scared because I don’t want to get embarrassed in front of the seniors.”

However, some coaches will take what they can get when it comes to freshman participation. This is especially true for the boys basketball team, who are worried about contacting and getting to know their freshmen.

“So far, the freshmen boys class has been emailed on three separate occasions, with the first dating back in the fall,” said boys head basketball coach Richard Kavalauskas. “It has been a challenge to contact or get to know freshmen from afar.”

Pickett and the girls softball team have expressed similar concerns. Their season is traditionally a spring season; however, it was moved to the “summer” season under new COVID-19 scheduling.

“Being remote has brought many challenges related to recruiting. In previous years the softball program would have been hosting open gym contact days for several months at this point,” said Pickett. “Communication is a struggle.” 

Many teams are still working to schedule their tryouts at the same time as any year. Coaches aim to move forward with hopes of using tryouts as a rare feat of consistency in this chaotic year.

“Our plan is to hold tryouts the same as we do every year,” said Byslma. “We will have about a week of playing so we can assess everyone properly.”

Regardless of the uncertainty surrounding this season, coaches remain excited to see their players back on the field.

“Extra curricular activities build community and bring people together,” said Pickett. “We all need to feel connected and part of something.”