Fans excited to watch high school basketball in person

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — “Urbana does such a fantastic job with safety, thinking about our kids first,” Jonville Chenoweth, an Urbana parent, said.

Parents, athletes and staff members were expressing their excitement to have people back in the gym watching basketball.

High school basketball season has officially begun and after a rocky two years of limited fans, virtual fans, or even no games due to Covid, fans at one high school were grateful to finally watch their kids.

Urbana High School wants to make sure everyone is safe and that the kids can have a season, so right now they are limiting how many people can come into the gym, but everyone is glad to be back to a little normalcy.

Fans cheering and the band playing: those are sounds Urbana basketball players haven’t heard in a year.

“We’re just trying to create a safe environment for not only our kids to continue on with basketball, but fans to support them and enjoy the atmosphere,” Steve Waller, Urbana Athletic Director, said.

That’s what Urbana High School was doing. Fans were allowed to watch their kids play in person, which is certainly different from last year.

“It was very, very virtual,” Chenoweth said. “We could only watch it online. He said he didn’t enjoy it as much I don’t think because there was no cheering section. No one was there. So its nice we’re back out. I know that he’s expressed being happy that I was able to come.”

This year, Urbana athletes are allowed to have four people watch the game and families couldn’t be more grateful.

“With Covid and all the different variants coming out, its rough,” Chenoweth said. “We’re really lucky Urbana still has a very safe way of letting us come out and watch the game and enjoy it with our kids.”

Fans and players have to wear a mask while indoors and are encouraged to socially distance on the bleachers.

“We’re here to make sure the kids can continue so we want to provide a safe space where people can enjoy the game, but not overcrowd the place either,” Waller said.

After playing in an empty gymnasium last year, players are excited to get a taste of normalcy.

“We have cheerleaders, we have our band, we have families and friends,” Waller said. “So the kids appreciate that atmosphere and high school sports is for them and so for us to be able to make it a safe place that’s our goal.”

“The kids still feel safe coming to school and now they’re out here playing,” Chenoweth said. “I got a son playing basketball, a daughter playing basketball, another daughter playing basketball, and they all get to enjoy it so I really feel like Urbana is doing the best job when it comes to taking care of our students.”

Urbana is doing the capacity restrictions at least for the next two games. They said they have a smaller gym so it makes it more difficult to spread out if they had general admission.

Over in Champaign, if you want to attend a high school game everyone must provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within the past 48 hours. Everyone must wear a mask at all times. Athletes are allowed 4 guests per game and an additional 500 tickets will be sold to the general public.

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