While the IHSA has allowed students to begin training again under numerous guidelines, athletes are still not permitted to do any sports-specific related drills.
There remains a good deal of time between now and the start of the fall sports season for less restrictive guidelines to be put into place, it had already started to take its toll on basketball season.
“I think this whole thing is a question mark for all sports right now really,” said Altamont head basketball coach John Niebrugge. “I think fall baseball is still a question mark and I don’t know how they’re going to ramp it up.”
Under normal circumstances, teams would be participating in different variations of summer workouts, camps and scrimmages to help gauge what the team looks like in comparison to the year prior following graduations as well as the things to work on later in the fall.
“We were looking different things we could do without our offense and put in different tweaks and sets,” said Effingham head coach Obie Farmer. “But this kind of took away all of June. Typically we do basketball stuff in June only and then in July the team will come in and lift and work on being more athletic.
“But this year is going to be flipped around. We have kids coming in doing the athletic work in June and then in July we’re going to try and treat it like June and try to do [basketball] kind of stuff. We also have to schedule around the football team, but otherwise I think we’re getting the stuff in that we need it’s just we haven’t had them around as much.”
“We really don’t do much in July and August,” Niebrugge said. “Summer ball to me is figuring out if they’re ready for varsity basketball. We’ve got a big sophomore class this year, so we would’ve seen what they’re capable of doing, and who is going to step up.”
But due to COVID-19 and the guidelines set forth, none of those have taken place, leaving basketball coaches in an unfamiliar situation. But teams are doing the best with the resources they have available.
“Another issue we have is that our weight room is under construction so we’re kind of limited right now,” said Teutopolis head coach Chet Reeder. “But we’ve still been going basketball wise. We’ve taken advantage of Google Classroom. I send them workouts to do every week, basketball and body weight training. I’ve been blown away and impressed with our guys’ dedication with all that’s been going on.”
Since his time at Sullivan, Reeder has a program he implements in the summer for his players to get shots up.
“About seven years ago, my brother and I had this idea of getting kids motivated to get shots up on their own,” Reeder said. “Basketball is a funny thing. We get the month of June, but then we really don’t get to see them again until November. If a kid doesn’t pick up a ball again until November, June is just wasted.
“So we came up with this shooting challenge idea to keep kids motivated to be shooting all summer until fall sports start. It’s strictly on their own and honor code really. When it started, we challenged our guys to make 2,500 shots in a summer and it’s really taken off.”
However, over the years, that mark has increased quite a bit.
“I’ve done it every year and every year we increase it,” Reeder said. “This year our challenge is that the kids have to make 7,500 shots. It started on Memorial Day and it goes until the night before fall sports start. It’s just trying to keep the kids motivated. That’s what’s cool, is that we were already kind of prepared for this type of summer, to give them stuff to still do even though we can’t be in the gym with them.”
Coaches will know more when the next stage of returning to play is announced by the IHSA in July, but it remains to be seen whether it’s a step or a leap forward.