'Man, it's been nearly a year since we had a track meet,' I said to Kris Roof as we sat at his breakfast bar recently. "I know dude... my concern is that I hope we can host or go to meets outside of the city once we get back," retorted Roof who is the head boys coach at Lane Tech High School In Chicago.
In the peak of winter amid the harsh cold and mounds of snow on the ground, the talk reverts back to the global pandemic that to this day has greatly affected us all in ways that we can't imagine. Roof, for example, is a special education teacher who treasures his work in the flesh versus the online variety. I've personally seen the passion that he has with all of his student-athletes. He is probably the only person that I have met who could name every single boy in a roster of 100+ boys blind-folded by hearing their voice.
The last several seasons in Chicago have been doubly rough for public league student-athletes who had to endure a teacher's strike, the pandemic, and now possibly another delay despite the city moving back into Phase 4. City and county official's plan for "restore Illinois" is designed to lift restrictions on indoor dining- but keep in mind that while there could a 25% capacity limit and/or ban on indoor service for bars that do not serve food.
The new mitigation plans have put the IHSA (Illinois High School Association) in a position to allow schools to begin winter sports training and competition. That of course is dependent on each respective school district's rules and policies.
Finally, as we watch indoor track and field competitions happen around the country in a safe and competitive manner, it is time for us to open ours here. The first event is slated for the first weekend of February- the 5th and 6th to be exact. Olympic gold medalist Morolake Akinosun has graciously provided an avenue for athletes to compete and be seen. The Akinosun Elite Invitational will be the first ever meet inside the brand new Gately Indoor Track & Field Stadium and it will be a great opportunity for all involved.