With many changes and adjustments made to the rules and regulations of high school sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, Elk Grove coaches and players have said they’re adapting to making the season go as smoothly as possible.
The girls basketball team at Elk Grove has recently started up its season upon the announcement that basketball — a medium-risk sport per the Illinois High School Association — could be played during the pandemic.
However, in comparison to previous years, the season is much more condensed than before, meaning that senior players are seeking the opportunity to get some semblance of a season done.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to play my last season because basketball has been a sport I’ve played since kindergarten,” varsity senior basketball player Pranjal Patel said. “I’m going to miss all the fun I had with my teammates and the memories we created together.”
To specifically recognize these current senior players, head girls’ basketball coach Brian Lee said he is planning to have the team’s Senior Night at during the team’s second home game of the season. This way, by having it very early in the season, Lee said he is adapting to make sure senior athletes get the recognition they deserve after years of hard work and time commitment.
“I’m really thankful that we have the opportunity to play again this year,” Patel said. “It’s been hard because this was my last chance to play basketball since I’m not playing in college.”
Some senior athletes, however, are planning on playing their sport in college after they graduate. This year, many athletes say, is crucial training for college athletics, but the years prior to senior year have been just as important, if not more, according to Lee.
“If a senior athlete is a potential candidate for college athletics, her training up to senior year is what prepares her for a college season,” Lee said. “By the time she gets to her senior year, she already possesses most of the knowledge that is needed to be successful in the sport. The difference in senior year is that the athlete typically matures physically and mentally; now, she is able to make almost exponential growth in the sport.”
With the situation different this season, in order to stay in shape and best prepare themselves, Lee said he advised his players to “not be afraid to stand out and stand alone. That means instead of training with your team, you may be training in a public park; alone. You may have to get up early or stay up late. You may have to do some things that will separate you from your friends.
“If you really want it bad enough, you have to be willing to pay the price,” Lee said.