CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — For almost a year, Parkland College men’s and women’s basketball have been stuck on the sidelines due to COVID-19. Despite not being able to play, they found ways to stay ready, any way they could.
“The apartment complex we live at has an outdoor court that we all started playing on until we could get back in here with the coaches,” Parkland sophomore and St. Joseph-Ogden native Peyton Crowe said.
The 24-win women’s team was able to finish their season before being shut down, they fell to the top team in the NJCAA district semifinals in double overtime. But the men’s program had their season halted prematurely after qualifying for the national tournament.
“We were downstairs when we watched the seeding show,” Parkland sophomore guard and Central alum Sam Beesley said. “We got ranked pretty high in the national tournament, and then two days later, canceled.”
“It wasn’t necessarily a shock to administrators around here,” Parkland head men’s coach Anthony Figueroa said. “We knew that was always a possibility. That was the safest thing to do at the time and it sucked.”
Both programs are back practicing now and begin their season this week, and they’ll do it without extensive COVID testing. Temperature checks, self-reporting symptoms, and lots of cleaning are the protocols they have in place. But they’ll do whatever they need to finally get back out on the court.
“You’re optimistic, you’re hopeful that you can play but you’re also cautious because you know how fragile this current environment is with the pandemic,” Figueroa said.
“Most of the time our girls are able to come in the gym and play over the summer,” Parkland head women’s coach Allie Lindemann said. “They didn’t get that opportunity. Really we’re taking a step back and just being thankful and really taking a look at just our love for the game and playing for that.”
Neither team will leave the state during the regular season, with the NJCAA national tournaments set for April 20-24 for both the men and women. The regular season starts Jan. 20 for the women, with the Cobras hosting Jefferson College. The men’s team opens at Lincoln Trail College on Jan. 22.