With a decision looming about the start of the winter sports season, St. Ignatius boys basketball Coach Matt Monroe remains hopeful that the upcoming basketball season can be played and done so safely.
Monroe, an Executive Board member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA), compiled the results of surveys sent to high school basketball coaches statewide about how coaches and teams handled contact days late this summer and into the fall.
Concerning the safety of the workouts and practices, the results were incredibly positive according to the survey.
“We wanted to get a snapshot of how things are going,” Monroe said. “[Starting the season] our main concern is the safety and health of players, coaches, officials, scorers and families. We’re not medical professionals, but we wanted to collect data in favor of playing or not.”
Monroe and the IBCA sent out the surveys to coaches for both boys and girls programs across the state, looking for how summer and fall contact days were handled with potential COVID-19 cases.
They received 797 responses back.
Of the coaches who answered (404 programs), 51 percent used their summer contact days permitted by the IHSA in July and August. For those programs, 7 percent reported having known positive COVID cases involving members of their program. The other 93 percent reported no known cases.
One program reported an outbreak (1-2 people) occurring.
Looking ahead to the fall sports, 69 percent (546 programs) said they are using their allowed 20 fall contact days. The results were similar according to the survey.
Nine percent reported known COVID cases and 91 percent reported no known cases. Of the nine percent, most reported 1 or 2 total cases.
Monroe said the information has been given to both the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) as a decision is made on the winter sports.
The contact days were held following health guidelines, including athletes and coaches wearing facemasks and an adherence to social distancing and numbers limits.
High school teams are scheduled to start practices Nov. 16. Competitions are allowed to begin Nov. 30.
“We hope the start of the season will happen from what we’ve seen,” Monroe said. “We’re working closely with the IHSA and IDPH to make sure they had access to this data. It was encouraging to us that we saw so few cases [through the contact days].”
St. Ignatius is coming off a 24-9 season.
The Wolfpack defeated DePaul Prep in a sectional semifinal in mid-March and were poised to play Fenwick before the end of the state series was canceled due to growing concerns over the health crisis.
Monroe is heading into his fifth season as head coach and was glad to just get a chance to work with his team after an atypical spring and summer.
“When the season ended prematurely, we didn’t know what to expect,” Monroe said. “So to get in front of the kids, talk to them face-to-face, just work in the gym, we were happy to be around and keep progressing. It was a whole new perspective, and you appreciate the opportunity.”