North Central athletes push for fall sports season

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INDIANAPOLIS- As schools debate reopening for in-person learning, there’s also debate over the high school sports.

Right now, the IHSAA season is still set to continue as scheduled, but one Indianapolis school district, Washington Township, is putting it on hold.

“It’s like a big part of who I am I guess,” said North Central High School soccer player Sterling Stewart.

Stewart is set to be a senior captain this year for the girls soccer team. After an injury derailed her junior season, this fall is her final chance to competitively play the sport she loves.

“This is basically the only sport that’s ever meant that much to me,” Stewart said.

Earlier this month, her school district voted to postpone extracurricular activities including sports, due to concerns over COVID 19. A number of her classmates put together a video asking the school board to reconsider their decision.

“We didn’t see this coming,” said Ellen Baker, a senior on the Cross Country team. “We had a week of practice with all this COVID precautions in place so we knew what it was like to have a socially distant practice.”

Baker was hoping this cross country season might land her a spot on a college roster, now she and her teammates watch as other athletes across the state continue to prepare for this season.

“It’s been really difficult to have to reach out to coaches and tell them I don’t know if my school is going to be able to compete this year,” Baker said.

“I can see both sides of the coin,” said Kristen Kelley, Nursing Director of Infection Prevention at IU Health. “My thought is that it may be able to move forward but we really have to modify the sport and do as much as we can to reduce the risk.”

Kelley also has a son who is dying to suit up the pads this year and play football with his friends. She says playing this fall it’s not an easy call to make, especially with cases on the rise. All sports have added risk, some more than others.

“Some sports might be considered lower risk than some of the higher contact sports where you have a lot of kids in close quarters facing each other,” Kelley said.

The IHSAA has put out a phased plan that includes a list of precautions schools must take in order to play. Some North Central parents say no matter what it takes, they don’t want their kids to miss these special moments.

“Maybe the games won’t be able to have spectators at all, but the kids don’t care. the kids just want to play,” said Val Stewart, Sterlings mother.

The Washington Township School Board has a virtual meeting scheduled for Wednesday night, however sports is not listed on the agenda.

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