Spring sports adapt to virtual landscape as they prepare for upcoming season


The Lane softball team has been using AthleticU to help train over the offseason. (Screenshot from Athletic U)

By Ella Rappel, Sports Editor

The spring sports season is fast approaching, with tryouts beginning on April 5. As athletes such as myself (I play softball) prepare for the season, however, much remains unknown.

The IHSA has announced a sports schedule for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year and approved a state playoff for traditional spring sports. 

But many CPS spring sports teams are still unclear on information such as tryout locations, game dates, opponents, the number of games and city championship details, according to Ms. Gillespie, assistant coach of Lane’s girls’ lacrosse team.

“A lot of questions are being unanswered from CPS that we’re still waiting for just because it’s a weird year. You have so many sports that would be playing in the fall playing now,” Gillespie said.

With many fall sports playing at the same time as spring sports, logistical difficulties and scheduling conflicts are likely to arise, according to Gillespie. Schedules for multiple sports are also likely to become shorter this season.

“It’s probably not going to be as many games as there normally was in a season. Usually, there was about eighteen, nineteen games. Nothing’s really scheduled just yet,” Gillespie said in an interview on March 17.

The uncertainty seems to be shared among multiple sports.

“I’ve heard that it’s going to be a much shorter season,” girls’ soccer player Gabi Mann, Div. 284, said in an interview on March 23. “But I don’t know for sure. That’s just rumors I’ve been hearing. There’s only one game set so I can’t really answer for sure.”

Despite all of the unknowns, spring sports teams — mine included — continue to prepare for the season ahead. For many teams, this means finding a way to adapt their preseason conditioning to fit in an online setting.

Both the girls’ soccer and girls’ lacrosse teams have used Google Meets to do workouts together. The girls’ lacrosse team has utilized breakout rooms in order to have athletes focus on different types of exercises, according to Gillespie.

Virtual conditioning workouts are designed to incorporate movement that athletes can do in their own space, according to girls’ varsity soccer coach Ms. Vale.

“Overall, we’re just trying to work on the entire body and just get everybody moving, feeling energetic, feeling like there’s a sense of community despite the fact that we’re all in our own homes,” Vale said.

Vale emphasized the importance of building community, even when teams are preparing for the season entirely online.

“In any sport, you always have your coach there on the sideline or you have your teammates there cheering you on or working with you, and we want our players to know that they are not alone,” Vale said.

Both the girls’ soccer and lacrosse teams have also modified their conditioning schedule, decreasing the days they have activities from four and five days per week, respectively, to three days per week.

“We know already being online is tough enough for the kids and we don’t want to continue to add more hours even though this is a different way of being online,” said Gillespie.

My conditioning for girls’ softball has also been virtual but is more self-directed. Softball players are assigned workouts three times per week on an app called AthleticU, which tracks the amount of time it takes athletes to complete various exercises. Athletes are expected to complete workouts on their own time. In my experience, this allows for more flexibility to complete workouts within my schedule, though it lacks the motivation and encouragement I would get from my teammates during conditioning in a regular season.

Not every sport, however, is meeting up for conditioning. The baseball team’s approach to preseason preparation is more reliant on the individual, according to Sam Rhodes, Div. 162.

“Everyone’s sort of self-reliant. So guys have to be going to the gym themselves, doing work by themselves, going to the batting cages, and everything’s on you,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes says that he’s confident that the team is working hard on themselves and keeping up, putting in work both with their travel team, if they have one, and individually.

“I think part of it is kind of good because then people can do specifically what they know they need to work on more,” said Rhodes.

Though each team has a different approach to conditioning this season, they all have one thing in common: coaches and players alike are happy that they get a chance to play this year.

Mann says that she’s especially excited for the soccer season because spring sports were unable to play last year.

“I think it’ll be fun, especially because it’s short. We’ll just have fun,” said Mann.

Coach Gillespie says that the coaches are trying to be as optimistic as possible, stressing the importance of working as a team to continue playing safely.

“We just want [the players] to know that we want them to have a good season even though it’s not normal yet,” Gillespie said. “But we’re going to try our hardest to have some fun.”