Summer sports get going at ETHS with updated mask regulations


Courtesy of Becky Arden

The girls badminton team made posters for graduating seniors. They were able to play against five other high schools during their regular season, which started early this March.

Yiming Fu, Assistant City Editor

When COVID-19 shut schools down last year, it didn’t just move classes online — it forced student athletes to put their sticks down, mitts away and rackets to the side as all high school sports came to a halt. 

But now sports at ETHS have more fully returned. This year’s summer sports include baseball, track and field, ultimate frisbee, lacrosse, softball, girls’ soccer, boys’ tennis, boys volleyball and wrestling, according to the school’s athletic department.

The summer season started April 8 with COVID-19 precautions in place. ETHS tried to incorporate modified sports seasons earlier this year, but it suspended all winter sports on November 19. 

For Evanston Township High School senior Chuck Rogers — who said the pandemic “took away junior year” — last year’s shutdown meant that his frisbee team’s hopes to qualify for nationals were squashed.

Now, Rogers is back on the field. He said every member of the frisbee team wears masks and self-monitors their symptoms through the myETHS website. Especially as many team members get vaccinated, Rogers feels safe. 

“I haven’t seen a single nose, a single mouth,” Rogers said. 

However, students competing in other “low-risk” outdoor sports — like baseball, softball, tennis and track and field — are no longer required to wear masks during competitions, after a decision by the Illinois High School Association board. Officials and athletes on the bench must continue to wear masks at all times, though. 

ETHS senior Becky Arden, who played badminton in the spring, said wearing masks while playing was not her “favorite thing in the entire world,” adding it makes the cardio and conditioning during practices more strenuous. 

“You have to take a lot more breaks,” Arden said. “And even while playing, like at a conference, you might have to just breathe for an extra second that you might not have.”

Despite the physical challenges, Arden, who was initially cautious to rejoin the team during a pandemic, said everyone on the badminton team this spring was diligent about wearing masks to keep each other safe. Some of her teammates double masked, which made her more comfortable at practices, she said. 

Emily Ho, another senior on the ETHS badminton team, said getting back into the sport for spring was a mental battle — she had to balance not only school and sports, but also the global pandemic. 

“It was just always knowing there was a chance that you would get COVID,” Ho said. 

Ho said she would always wash her hands before and after a match, and sometimes in the middle of practice, as well. To keep safe, the team spread out, which made it harder to foster community, she added. But Ho said she’s still glad to be playing. 

Rogers is also happy to be back with the team that has been welcoming to him, he said, and he’s excited to introduce new underclassmen to the intricacies of the sport. 

“I’m really looking forward to actually competing against other schools,” Rogers said, “I want to see how this team will grow and coalesce together.”

To boost team spirit, Rogers said he’s been able to give his teammates elbow bumps on the field while following safety guidelines. 

Last spring, Rogers and his teammates were getting ready for a “breakout year.”  While the pandemic interrupted that goal, he said he’s still incredibly grateful to be able to play this summer and that the team “gels” really well. 

“Here in the senior year, my final year, the last hurrah — I just want to put everything on the field,” Rogers said. 

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Twitter: @yimingfuu

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