CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Parkland College got the go-ahead from the NJCAA to resume sports last Friday and the Cobras intend to bring student-athletes back to campus in August. Parkland athletic director Brendan McHale has been busy putting together plans, anticipating the news. Once he got the green light from the governing body of junior college sports last Friday, it’s been all in on making protocols a reality.
“Of course safety is at the forefront and we’re going to do this as best as we can, as long as its safe for our kids,” McHale said during a Zoom call. “When that decision came out, and we got word it was heading in that direction, so when it came out it was music to our ears. Anything we can do to get back to some sort of normalcy, seeing the kids compete, practice and do something that they truly love to do on a daily basis. The fact that we’ve got a chance to do that this coming fall, we’ll accept that with open arms with social distancing as well.”
McHale says Parkland will not test all of its 150 athletes when they return to campus, but will require a test if someone is exposed or has symptoms, along with quarantine. The target date for the first volleyball practice is Aug. 1, along with the men’s and women’s soccer teams. McHale has spent hours on Zoom with his coaches and athletes the past few months, doing his best to lead from afar.
“Obviously up until this past Friday, the question anytime we had a Zoom meeting, and we’ve had a lot of Zoom meetings, it was, ‘Hey, are we going to play? Are we going to have a season, what do you think?'” McHale said. “And trying to be the optimist, I said, ‘Sure hope we are.’ We were planning and proceeding like we were going to have a season and when we got that green light last Friday, now we go into plan B, which is putting all our policies and procedures in place to make it as safe as possible. Out here at Parkland College we’re going to do everything we can to see our kids, student-athletes compete but do it in a safe and respectful way for everyone in our community.”