Sports awaiting university approval to begin competition


Maria Shaughnessy

Junior Zach Smith fiercely drives to the basket in a Jan. 13 2020 game against Francis W. Parker School. With approval from the University of Chicago, the 2021 U-High boys basketball season could begin sometime within the next few weeks.

Amon Gray, Reporter

This article was updated Feb. 11 to include recent developments in the Athletics Department’s proposal status and in the Independent School League.

Although winter sports have been approved for competition by the Illinois High School Association with the transition to Phase 4, the current proposal from the U-High Athletics Department has been delayed by the University of Chicago to prioritize the return to in-person learning, according to an email sent Feb. 11 to winter athletes. Approval from the University of Chicago would allow U-High’s teams for boys and girls basketball, fencing, dance troupe and boys swimming to begin. 

The Independent School League will not play a full conference schedule this year due to the inability of all schools to participate.

According to IHSA regulations, basketball and volleyball, each deemed high-risk sports, will be limited to conference and regional games at this level. For high-risk sports, players will wear masks while competing and maintain social distancing while not actively competing. Swimmers will wear masks outside of the pool at all times with a maximum of two swimmers per lane. 

According to Athletics Director David Ribbens, transportation must be provided by families to and from events. There will not be spectators for games, but the athletics department is planning to create a live video feed for families and fans to watch remotely. 

In an email sent to athletes Feb. 8, Mr. Ribbens gave the schedule for the spring season. Boys soccer will start on March 1 and end April 17 but as of yet there can be no state series. Volleyball will start March 8 and end April 13, also with no state series. Boys tennis and track and field will start April 5 and end June 19 with the possibility of a state series depending on vaccine rollout and positivity rate.

Practices for winter and spring sports may have a staggered start and end at different times to limit the crowding of athletes in the gym areas.

“The flow of students becomes the devil in the detail,” Mr. Ribbens said. “I think those plans still need to be fully developed depending on support or lack of support, but the movement in the building becomes part of the logistics.”

Sports registration for the 2021-22 year will begin May 26, and fall sports seasons are scheduled to begin Aug. 9. While the fall season will follow the IHSA calendar, masks may still be required and spectator size may be cut limited.