Track and Zoom

Indoor Track and Field Has Been Classified as a High Risk Sport


Getting in shape for indoor track season, student-athletes ordinarily start running through the third-floor hallways, jumping over backpacks and running between crowds. This indoor track season is yet another season that will not look the same as it has in the past. During the fall season, Parker did their best to try and sustain as many of the fall sports as possible. Parker will continue to make sure student-athletes are able to have some sort of an indoor track season.

On January 25, Upper School students and parents received an email from Athletic Director Bobby Starks regarding the winter, spring, and summer sports. The Parker indoor track season was scheduled to begin on January 25 and end on March 26. The Athletic Department, with help from the Medical Subcommittee, has come to the decision that Indoor Track practices will be unsafe for the student-athletes, coaches, and the school community. With that, they have decided to cancel all indoor-track practices for the season. However, the coaches and Athletic Department will do their best to conduct remote activities throughout the season. The students-athletes that choose to participate in indoor track will be receiving another update the first week of February regarding how these activities will look for the rest of the season.

Last year the season began the first week of February. This year the season will look different, but the coaches, Athletic Department, and captains have been discussing other options to have a memorable season while staying safe.  The captains have discussed that since they aren’t allowed to meet in person, they could use the app Strava or other team running apps.

Strava is an app that tracks runs, bicycle rides, and walks and can share progress with the whole team. The Field Hockey team used this app this year when they weren’t allowed to meet in person. 

Unlike Cross Country in the fall, indoor track is in the winter and inside. Typically, the team practices indoors and on-campus for most of the season, as it is too cold to run outside. This is one of many reasons why it is considered a high risk sport and was cancelled for the rest of the season.

This year Indoor Track and Field was scheduled to begin on January 25. However, due to the current state of Illinois Tier 3 Mitigations, Starks is hoping that the Indoor Track team will enjoy the virtual activities that will be provided. According to Starks, Parker will be following the city, state, and IHSA guidelines for the rest of the season.

In the fall, the Tier 3 Mitigations allowed groups of up to 50. In the fall, the three teams that were able to have a season were allowed to have the entire team for practices without having to break the team down into small groups. 

Starks states that some student-athletes and parents have reached out to the athletic department about the season. “Our department is committed to providing meaningful athletic opportunities for our students,” Starks said. “This year as we deal with the pandemic the guidance and circumstances of athletics in the state of Illinois have not been static therefore there is uncertainty with each season and that is truly frustrating.”

This year, Indoor Track and Field meets will look very different than previous years. Throughout all IHSA sports, the number of scheduled competitions has been reduced drastically because of the state guidelines that determine the risk level of the sport. The risk level dictates if a sport is only allowed to participate in practice or if the team can practice and participate in competitions as well. Due to the risk level and structure of Indoor Track meets, the meets that Parker typically participate in are on pause at the moment. Starks believes it is highly unlikely that meets will be hosted this season. It is also unlikely that schools will host virtual Indoor Track and Field meets because that has not been presented as an option.

Sophomore Ben Rachel was caught off guard by the email Starks sent out to the school. “I totally thought that our indoor track season was going to be cancelled.” Rachel says. Although the practices have been canceled, there will still be remote team activities. Rachel has low expectations for the season. He thinks that the coaches will have a remote check-in with the team while the athletes follow a running schedule. With all the CDC Covid protocols and IHSA rules, there isn’t much hope of finding a way to practice as a team. 

Ben Rachel was on the Cross Country team in the fall and has no doubt that the Athletic Department will try and make the best out of this Indoor Track season since they made a huge effort for the fall sports. “Overall I am disappointed in not having a season, but I have full confidence in their sports department to try and make the winter season the best it can be,” Rachel said.

The Parker freshmen have experienced their first year of high school like no other. There is not a single day of online learning that resembles a normal in-person high school day. Freshman Isabel Markel participated in Cross Country in the fall and planned to participate in Indoor Track this winter. Markel wanted to participate in Track and Field this year because last year Markel attended the British International School, where she enjoyed being on the Track and Field team. Markel saw it as an opportunity to become more involved in the Parker community and meet new people. “I thought joining the Cross Country team, and later the Indoor Track team would be a fun way to meet new people and also get some exercise during COVID-19,” Markel said.

After receiving Starks’ January 25 email regarding Winter, Spring, and Summer sports, Markel was interested to see how Indoor Track will be going virtual. She isn’t too happy about the news, but is optimistic to see how things will change throughout the season. “The main reason I wanted to join was so I could get physical human interaction, but that won’t be possible anymore,” Markel said.  Although Parker has stated that Indoor Track is a high-risk sport and is unable to meet in person, Markel sees some ways the team could practice outside, and believes  there are other solutions that could have been explored, rather than fully switching the whole season to virtual.

Parker students have been using sports this year as a way to have human interactions with other students in the Parker community, but those students who are interested in Indoor Track will not be having those types of social interactions as they had hoped.