Off the Record

It was March 10, and I was prepping for a busy week of basketball.

Marian Catholic, Morgan Park and St. Ignatius were alive in the boys basketball state playoffs with all three scheduled to play on either March 10 or 11 in sectional semifinals.

At this point, the buzz and growing concern about a new virus and rising cases continued to build, but it wouldn’t impact me or my job—right?

I remember my mom, Tracy, a longtime nurse, telling me to just be careful, wash my hands whenever possible and generally, be safe, as I headed out to cover Morgan Park versus Hillcrest at Thornridge on March 10 and then St. Ignatius against DePaul Prep on March 11, likely in front of big crowds.

Well, everybody knows what happened next.

Both games were played, with Morgan Park and St. Ignatius advancing to a scheduled sectional final on March 13. Marian Catholic advanced as well, setting up a potentially fun night of sports reporting.

Then, it all derailed.

The reports of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert being diagnosed with the coronavirus trended immediately on Twitter on the night of March 11, and the reports of this COVID-19 pandemic became real.

It wasn’t just something on the news anymore.

In the following days, conference tournaments and, ultimately, the NCAA Tournament were canceled. Locally, the finals of the boys state series were canceled.

Ultimately, the entire spring season for high school sports was axed.

And, here we sit almost 10 months later, a potential end in sight as a vaccine is now being distributed.

To say the least, what a year it has been.

As a sports editor, I didn’t cover a live sporting event for almost four full months. The last time that happened was back in my college days at Indiana University, so at least 13 years ago.

When I finally did get back out to a game, covering youth baseball in July, it was both nerve-wracking and exciting to be out at a sporting event again.

I was juggling a notebook, my camera and the newest part of my wardrobe, a facemask. It certainly took some getting used to.

Sports slowly started to trickle back into our lives, and we were all glad to have it, even just as a distraction on TV.

Now, months later, we’re sort of right back where we started.

In Illinois, high school sports have been on pause since mid-November as young athletes wait word from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois High School Association on a potential sports schedule for what promises to be a chaotic first six months of 2021.

After watching the Cubs and White Sox in the late summer and fall, we can now watch the Bears and Bulls compete. In January, we’ll hopefully be able to watch Blackhawks games, too.

Locally, it’s been tough without high school or youth sports.

I can’t wait to get out and cover some sports again in 2021.

I can’t wait for holiday basketball tournaments.

I can’t wait for sectional semifinal matchups across all sports, one of the most fun nights to cover sports.

I can’t wait to cover Gold Ball championship games in the Southside Catholic Conference.

Football potentially in mid-February with temperatures in the teens? I’m already getting my layers ready.

Basketball in the spring or summer?

It’s going to be weird with basically a year of high school sports crammed into about six months.

However, we’ve made it this far as sports fans. We’ll get through the upcoming stretch as well.

To wrap up 2020, I’d like to say thank you to all the loyal readers of The Beverly Review for going on the ride with us. It’s been stressful, to say the least, scrambling for stories and putting the paper together each week with little to no sports being played.

Here’s hoping to a safe, healthy 2021 that’s packed to the brim with live sports. Happy New Year, everybody!