Quarantined yet again


Photo courtesy of Anthony Travlos

Complicated Conflict: Missing the simpler days of pre-game group photos and football playoffs, seniors Hannah Farkas, varsity poms member, and Anthony Travlos, varsity football captain, agree motivation nowadays is hard to find. However, both appreciate the strict guidlines set in place to bring teams back together as soon as possible.

Charlie Mihelic, asst. sports editor

Catching their breath through paper masks, walking through empty school hallways, filling out daily surveys and staying away from teammates during practices have become the reality for student-athletes at South. However, David Schoenwetter, football head coach, emphasized that the hardest thing athletes have to grapple with this year is when a teammate tests positive for Covid-19.

The football and poms teams are two of many programs at South who have dealt with rising cases followed by a two week-shutdown this year. Schoenwetter affirmed that this quarantining process is simply the tough reality the pandemic imposes on athletes.

“I just kind of follow any decision that’s made at this point in time but know it may change again,” Schoenwetter said. “That’s just the reality. Teams have to make decisions and react quickly to new guidelines.”

The football program’s attitude has impressed Schoenwetter throughout their contact days that the school and state have allowed. Contact days are where the team can practice in-person while distancing and wearing masks and he appreciates the extra efforts made by players despite the irregular and unpredictable schedule.

“I saw real appreciation for the moments when the guys got to come together to practice or lift,” Schoenwetter said. “I’ve talked a lot about how successful people deal with adversity and how we just have to be grateful for what we have when we have it.”

Earlier this year on July 29, the Illinois High School Sports Association (IHSA) elected to push the high school football season to the upcoming Spring giving a Feb. 15 start date. Senior Anthony Travlos, varsity football captain, agreed that uncertainty has made motivation harder to find. Travlos said that he has continued to use his teammates as encouragement to keep preparing for whatever type of season they get.

“It is hard, especially now with the Adaptive shutdown,” Travlos said. “But we all trust each other and know that our teammates are still putting the work in on their own. And I think that this season, more than ever, trust is important to the team and the program.”

The starting and stopping pattern is nothing new to the football program after enduring a case earlier this year during summer camp. On the other hand, senior Hannah Farkas, varsity poms captain, claims that going in and out of two-week quarantines is something that worries her team. 

“Falling into that routine is definitely a worry because if one person gets it out of 26, everyone is shut down,” Farkas said. “We have done our best to social distance but there are a lot of people so it’s hard to combat”.

The odds are hard to beat with so many kids on a sports team, but South’s guidelines and restrictions have been seemingly effective because both the football and poms programs did not see any spread amongst players who came into contact with the original case.

“I think the school’s guidelines have helped this process a lot,” Schoenwetter said. “The biggest things are restricting the number of kids together and obviously, wearing masks. We have also had positive cases on both the freshman and sophomore levels but once again, no one contracted it from them.”

Farkas added that the school’s guidelines bring safety to the players when Covid-19 does strike.

“I was not really scared of getting it when I heard of a case on poms,” Farkas said. “I feel like if I do get it, it would definitely not be from practice because we wear masks and are distanced for the entire time.”

Schoenwetter said that the process following the outbreak of the Covid-19 case was quick and easy. He commends the school’s ability to handle the situation and not simply panic.

“I was overall impressed with how fast people were contacted,” Schoenwetter said. “I felt like the administration did a great job. I got home by 7:00 p.m. after getting the news, I was on conference calls within 20 minutes and we were done by 9:00 p.m.”

Farkas credits these strict guidelines and shutdowns as the reasons why there has been no spread of the virus through practicing. Like poms, Travlos added that the emails released to the football players were similarly complicated; however he still understands the privacy of the situation.

“To the players, it was important to know who it was even though it was by no means the schools’ place to tell us that,” Travlos said. “It’s obviously private and we have to respect that but I think not knowing who had tested positive initially added to the chaos a little bit.”

Schoenwetter appreciates that his players have stayed locked in with the chaos that constantly changing guidelines has created and made this offseason difficult. But he believes that keeping the mood light has helped keep mindsets positive when they are together.

“We have had to start and stop several times so we have joked around that we were on our third first day,” Schoenwetter said.

Although dealing with positive cases has been a burden on many programs across the school, Travlos praises players and coaches from all programs who have persisted throughout these past few months.

“The motivation side is hard with starting and stopping,” said Travlos. “We all naturally feel a little more lonely when we’re in quarantine and can’t put in the work next to our teammates and coaches. Honestly, it’s just hard [for everyone] to grasp the idea of uncertainty that surrounds sports right now.”