Coaches and athletes in the IHSA traditional spring sports around Illinois are rejoicing after learning Monday that state finals are planned for their sports in June.
The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the entire spring sports season in 2020, along with the boys basketball state tournaments. The IHSA Board of Directors met Monday and approved a recommendation to set dates and parameters for badminton, baseball, softball, bass fishing, boys gymnastics, boys tennis, boys volleyball, girls soccer, journalism, boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls track and field and boys and girls water polo.
Boys and girls lacrosse and boys volleyball cannot conduct state finals under current Illinois Department of Public Health mitigations. However, the board approved plans to host those state finals in hopes that mitigation changes will allow for it by that time.
The state series guidelines will be posted online and shared with coaches and personnel later this week.
Also Monday, the IHSA released a statement that outdoor sports can increase their attendance over the limit of 50 from indoor sports.
Under the IDPH guidelines, schools within regions under Phase 4 mitigations are allowed up to 20% capacity for outdoor events. The spring sports first affected by this will be football and boys soccer. Girls volleyball, an inside sport that starts soon, still will be limited to 50.
“We have been adamant in our discussions with IDPH that we believe we can safely and responsibly expand spectator guidelines without risking the general public to greater exposure to COVID-19,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “This felt like a commonsense change, especially as we evaluated collegiate and pro sport spectator guidelines in the state, and are happy for the student-athletes who will be participating in IHSA outdoor sports this spring and summer, as well as for their families and friends.”
In the fall, the IHSA’s postseason series for sports considered low risk (boys and girls cross country, boys and girls golf, girls tennis and girls swimming) ended with sectional competitions. The last state finals in an IHSA sports were last year’s Classes 3A and 4A girls basketball tournaments in early March.
Now, with lower COVID-19 numbers around the state, the IHSA can have its state finals in sports that did not get any season at all a year ago.
The IHSA also will be posting a sport-by-sport mitigation guidance later in the week so those in spring sports (now considered the “summer season” in May and June by the IHSA) can better prepare for their seasons.