Illinois high school coaches await IHSA winter sports decision

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Illinois High School Association said it will hold another meeting before making a decision on the winter sports season and representatives from the governor's office and public health department will be invited.

"I just want to see the kids back in, but I also want them to be safe," said Robert Smith, head basketball coach and athletic director at Simeon Career Academy.

RELATED: 'Let us play': IL high school athletes, parents put pressure on Pritzker to loosen restrictions
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Some high school athletes are once again bringing their fight to the governor's door, calling on him to loosen restrictions and let them play.

He said that balancing act has been part of the athletic department at the South Side school all year.

"For everybody's sake, at this point, I think it's the right thing to do," Smith said. "You don't want anybody to get sick or unfortunately die from the virus, so I think if we have to move it back to spring I think that would be the best thing."

On the other side of town, the disappointment is palpable at DePaul College Prep.

"I will try to get them on the field or on the floor in the safest way possible," head basketball coach Tom Kleinschmidt said. Fielding a squad of five seniors, the former college star can't hide his disappointment.

"This is really their last year to play organize sports and it is tough on them, it wears on them," he said. "You can tell when they are in school, when they are around teammates, contact days, open gym - you can tell they are excited and happy to be there."

These and other coaches will continue to advocate for designating basketball as a medium-risk sport and to delay the basketball season rather than cancel play for the entire winter season.

The idea is basketball practice will begin two weeks prior to any scheduled contests, whether before a delayed winter start or a start date later in the school year.
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