DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Decatur Public Schools says it does not make sense to play without meeting for class, because of that they are cancelling sports until they are back in school.
The IHSA says they could have played, but Athletic Coordinator Joe Caputo says bringing kids together after school while they can not meet during school did not make sense to them.
“If they weren’t comfortable doing that, but they wanted to participate in some type of after school athletics the answer was going to be no,” says Caputo.
That means golf, tennis and cross country athletes there will have to miss out on their seasons. For Seniors, their time as a high school athlete may be done.
“I was really preparing for this year,” says MacArthur Cross Country runner Jonah Tolbert. “Right as track got over, I was running every day six miles. I was really prepared. It’s a little disappointing, but safety comes first.”
Caputo says Decatur is the only district he knows of that has decided to cancel sports until they are back in class. Right now, virtual learning is going through the end of the first quarter, Oct. 9. Caputo knows they made the right decision, but it does not make it any easier on coaches, athletes, or himself.
“For a lot of them this is going to be it,” says Caputo. “When you talk with those kids, when you see them and you have those conversations, it just really breaks your heart.”
There is some room for hope though. If Decatur returns to class for the second quarter, there is a small window where some high school sports could play some games and matches. Which still could mean a good ending for Decatur’s seniors.
“It sounds like maybe we’ll have regionals,” says Tolbert. “Maybe like one first and last run of senior year, that would be cool.”
Decatur schools have already heard from cross country officials. They would be able to join the season if they return to the classroom before the end of the fall season. They are still waiting to hear if golf and tennis would be able to do the same.
There is no chance junior high sports in the Decatur District are a go later in the fall. The IESA has end dates set for baseball, softball, and cross country before Decatur schools would return to class.