ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — In his fourth year as the athletic director at Auburn high school, Brad Pemberton has a lot on his plate.
“It is the work that I’m happy to do because now we get to put athletes back on the court, on the field, and back in the gyms,” Pemberton said.
After the IHSA announced earlier this week that Winter sports could return to competition as early as next week, athletic directors are rushing to get everything in order.
“Most of my coaches are like, ‘Brad, can I play? Practice today?’ The meeting’s on Wednesday. ‘Do you have the info yet?’ Coach I ain’t got it yet. They’re just thrilled they’re itching to get back at it.”
Administrators from the NIC-10 met on Wednesday regarding the upcoming schedule.
“We did the winter sports, and we’re meeting on Tuesday again now as a conference to talk about football, volleyball, and soccer,” Pemberton said.
Outside of trying to find opponents on such a short notice, there are other difficulties at play.
“So obviously the logistics of having a home event, it changes. You’ve really got to change your thinking. You really have to be creative about entrances and exits, spacing. In a situation where normally you’d put your whole program on one bus, now you’re taking two.”
Despite these obstacles Pemberton has his eyes set on the bigger picture.
“The opportunity for the kids to play is there and that’s the main thing,” he said.
The boys and girls basketball season is set to start on February 9th, with each school hosting one of the two teams.
“We’ll be playing Tuesday, Thursday, Saturdays. If we’re playing, let’s say, Jefferson, I’ll host the boys. Girls will go to Jefferson and so they’ll both play the same night and it’ll just be opposite sites.”
As of now, no decision has been made whether or not fans will be allowed to attend games. Although it’s been an uphill battle getting to this point, Pemberton can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
“When they finally got the clearance to go back and play, I’m beyond thrilled. I’ll work 24 hours a day to make sure these kids can play.”