Prep Softball

IHSA alters game limitations, waits on decision regarding club teams

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 16, 2020 1:00 am

QUINCY -- A secondary piece of news to come out of Monday's Illinois High School Association Board of Directors meeting created more reaction, consternation and worry than anything else the board decided.

It trumped what seemed to be good news.

The board announced it was rescinding the contest limitations for the winter, spring and summer seasons. No longer will teams be limited to two contests per week, and the normal game limitations as dictated by IHSA by-laws will be used.

Tournaments still will be limited to three teams, meaning traditional holiday basketball tournaments will remain on the shelf.

Also, the board decided to move the beginning of the summer season up two weeks. For baseball, softball, track and field, girls soccer, lacrosse and boys tennis, practices will begin April 19 and games can be played starting May 3.

Those two decisions should allow for the traditional spring sports, which lost the 2020 season because of the coronavirus, to have a full season.

"It's nice to know we will be able to play more than twice a week and have a better selection of games," said Eric Orne, the Quincy Notre Dame girls basketball and softball coach. "I hope by the spring things are better and we can go outside our COVID region and pick up games against the Alton Marquettes and the Waterloo Gibualts like we have before.

"It's still a wait-and-see approach."

That's because of the secondary piece of news.

Highland High School requested an exemption to the by-law prohibiting student-athletes in volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, baseball and softball from simultaneously participating on their high school team and their club or traveling team. The board tabled a ruling on the exemption.

The board plans to get feedback from coaches in those sports before a final decision.

"There was a lengthy and spirited discussion on if we should provide an exemption to this rule given the unprecedented nature of the school year," IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said. "The Board understands both sides of the argument and has heard from passionate advocates for each scenario.

"Ultimately, concerns over safety and equity left them uncomfortable with providing an exemption to this rule."

The belief from coaches and school administrators is declining the exemption, especially since the summer season will extend deep into June, actually will hinder the high school teams because players will want to play with their club teams in college showcases.

"My hope is we can start earlier in April and whatever state tournament series we can have can be done earlier in June to eliminate some of those issues," Orne said.