(HOI) -- Wednesday afternoon the IHSA announced athletics will remain on pause through at least the end of January. A tough blow for players, coaches, and fans who had been hopeful the pause would be lifted.
While IHSA officials remain optimistic for a February return, the condensed timeline and potential overlap of sports could make things even more difficult for schools to fit all of their sports seasons in.
Many football and basketball coaches in the area are worried that their seasons will be canceled entirely because the pause will continue on for a third straight month.
"Everybody is still hoping that there is an opportunity to play some sports in Illinois this year, but the clock is ticking and sooner or later something is gonna have to give. Whether the IHSA is either going to revamp everything they've schedule, or they're going to have to start canceling activities," said Lewistown Athletic Director Greg Bennett, who is also the Girls Basketball Head Coach and a Defensive Coordinator for the Football team.
Washington Girls Basketball Coach Kim Barth says she hopes a decision either way will be made soon, because it's starting to feel like the students are being strung along.
"I just really hope that we can start to move in a positive direction for the kids and not lead them on and not make them feel like we're promising something to them, because we're following the rules, we're doing exactly what's been asked of us and we just hope that soon we can move in a direction where we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and we get a season," said Barth.
Another factor in play is basketball is listed at a higher risk level than other girls sports, such as Volleyball, Soccer, Track and Softball. While Baseball, Track, and Soccer are also lower risk sports for boys than Football and Basketball.
Peoria Manual Head Coach Willie Coleman says Wednesday's decision was tough to hear, because his team held hope they'd be able to practice together again, but says they will make the most of the time they have.
"That's just life, you gotta adjust to situations, and that's what my main goal is to get my kids, to no matter what happens in life, you gotta adjust. It's gonna be good, it's gonna be good, just take the good with the bad and adjust to life and keep moving," explained Coleman.
Barth says it's been a positive to see IHSA and IDPH talking together to find a solution. However, she knows the current mitigations aren't all effective, because there are players all across the state going to surrounding states to play on club and competitive teams.
A move that allows athletes to keep their name relevant and build more exposure, as they try to make their case for playing at the next level.
"We have at least two young men who will be playing next year at the next level and unfortunately some of those choices of where they would like to go might be getting taken away from them right now. Simply because they're not being seen, they're not getting a chance to prove that they're better than they were last year," said Peoria Notre Dame Boys Basketball Coach Tom Lacher.