2020 Year in Review: High School Sports

Amid their best stretch in program history, the St. Charles North boys basketball team’s season was over before ever tipping off for a chance at a first-ever sectional title.

Already with a program-record 24 wins and its second consecutive regional final championship, one will never know what was to come for them.

On March 12, the Illinois High School Association halted the basketball postseason with the COVID-19 pandemic in its earliest stages gripping the nation.

“My heart is broken,” said Christian Czerniak, a senior guard. “We work[ed] [our] whole lives for this moment. We made it to the place this school [has] been trying to get back to since [2008-2009]. We had the win record. Love my guys and for it to end this way hurts.”

Eventually, the entire spring sports calendar followed suit as the months progressed with schools resorting into remote learning.

The return and process to resuming high school sports has been met with high degrees of nuance. As the pandemic ensued, the state of Illinois opted for a conservative –– and perhaps contested –– resumption, a battle that continues between the IHSA, Gov. JB Pritzker’s Office and the hundreds of school districts affected.

Rallies advocating for the resumption of prep sports sprouted across the state, namely to contest the state’s opposition to allowing a football season in the fall. Illinois is the only state in the Midwest to not play some form of a football season thus far, but has initial plans of resuming possibly in February.

“At the end of the [Chicago IHSA Return to Play] rally, I looked around and saw smiles on each and every one of my teammates’ faces,” Batavia senior wide receiver Trey Urwiler wrote for Friday Night Drive. “We made a difference, we spoke up and our voices were heard. It was truly a remarkable event.

The IHSA, Illinois Dept. of Public Health and Pritzker’s Office have wrestled to assert control in the battle of resuming prep sports across the state. In late Oct., the IHSA defied Pritzker’s initial pause on the prep basketball season in a vote to move forward, pending individual approval, before later backing off in the following weeks.

Other fall season sports: cross country, tennis, golf and girls swimming were allowed to commence play with heavy restrictions and health-related adaptations. The current winter sports slate is currently on indefinite pause and it remains to be seen what happens moving forward with prep seasons.

Jacob Bartelson

Jake is a full-time sports reporter writing primarily for the Kane County Chronicle covering preps. His collective work is featured across several Shaw markets and platforms, including Friday Night Drive and Bears Insider. Jake began full-time in 2017.