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Spanish Daily Journal
     March 16, 2020      #45-76 sdj

School sports begin to see coronavirus

Los deportes escolares comienzan a ver coronavirus

As professional and college sports organizations began suspending play and closing tournaments to the public, it was only a matter of time before the coronavirus outbreak affected the local sports scene.

The Kankakee Community College women’s basketball team has been preparing to leave for Port Huron, Mich., on Saturday ahead of its first-round game at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II National Tournament on Tuesday.

The Cavaliers will still play as planned, but the NJCAA announced Wednesday all social events that correlate with the tournament will be canceled, and the tournament itself will be closed to everyone except what the NJCAA described in a news release as “student-athletes, coaches, team personnel and necessary college administrators.”

The news release said the decision was made to accommodate the state’s limiting of public events to no more than 100 spectators.

That means as Cavaliers coach Donnie Denson goes for his 500th career win when the team takes on Macomb Community College (Michigan) on Tuesday, there will be no fans to potentially witness his achievement. But that’s the last thing on Denson’s mind at the moment.

“There’s nothing we can do, and we really have to take a step back from all of our hard work and efforts and realize what’s at stake,” Denson said. “There’s a lot of people that think that this COVID-19 isn’t as bad as it really is, and it was condemned as a pandemic today.

“I think we should really take into consideration the seriousness of it until it’s totally figured out,” he continued. “If that’s the case and they’re gonna close the game so fans can’t watch a basketball game, I do feel bad for what every family has given to every one of these teams, not just us.”

A couple of high schools also felt the effects of the outbreak, as a track meet at Purdue University set for Thursday no longer will happen.

The 2020 Hoosier State Relays Trials Hosted by West Lafayette High School, an event that began Friday and was set to conclude Thursday at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., was canceled Wednesday because of proactive measures being taken by the University, with all nonuniversity sponsored events that were set to be held on campus being canceled.

Iroquois West was set to attend Thursday, an event athletic director Kristy Arie said the program was looking forward to in the indoor track program’s infancy.

“This is really our first full year doing indoor track — we dabbled last year and did two meets, and this year we did four or five,” Arie said. “The Purdue one was a big one for the kids and something they looked forward to, so it’s disappointing.”

Watseka also was slated to head east Thursday. Warriors athletic director Barry Bauer said Thursday’s cancellation hasn’t caused any concern about spring sporting events with the official start of games and competitions set for Monday.

“Not really,” Bauer said. “At this point, there isn’t anything planned.”

Arie said Iroquois West has yet to have a discussion either but recognized it might be something that has to be addressed eventually.

“I don’t think anybody around here is looking to go to any extremes as far as cancelling events,” Arie said. “I sure hope it doesn’t get to that extreme, but if that’s a bridge we have to cross, we’ll see when we get there.”

The Illinois High School Association sent schools a briefing last week concerning COVID-19, with recommendations and preventative measures provided.

Kankakee athletic director Ronnie Wilcox said the school has reacted similarly, making sure to remind parents, students and staff on the preventative measures to take.

“We’re just monitoring the situation, reminding people to wash their hands, things like that,” Wilcox said. “No drastic measures yet ... just normal reminders about not sending students to school when they’re sick, that kind of stuff.”

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