Our hope was nearly extinguished.
The days on the calendar continued to be crossed off. November, when basketball season usually began, came and went, then December and by the end of January it seemed very probable that a basketball season would not take place. The COVID metrics were escalating and the state had moved basketball to the “high risk” category of sports. “I was trying to remain hopeful and stay positive but there definitely were days when I could feel myself losing hope,” said Sarah Carstensen, one of three captains on this year’s Lady Trojan team. The news and rumors didn’t help. Every day there seemed to be speculation that basketball would not take place.
Then, surprisingly, on January 27, the IHSA announced that there would be a basketball season beginning in early February if DuPage County reached Phase 4. Practices began immediately and by February 6 our girl’s basketball team played their first game of the season.
Reflecting on those early days in the gym Captain Hannah Schuringa said, “At first I wasn’t sure how it would feel to be playing in masks and following all the guidelines, but after the first practice I realized it was so worth it to play basketball.”
Sureya Alex, the third captain on the team echoed those sentiments, “It felt like a relief. Our team is very tight-knit, so it was fun and comfortable. It feels like a reunion. I love it.”
There are lots of obstacles that accompany the basketball season in the age of COVID. The players, coaches and referees, must wear masks for practice and games. There is social distancing on sidelines with players separated and seated in two or three rows of chairs. There is no jump ball to start the game. Following the first stoppage of play after five minutes in each quarter, there is an officials time out for a “mask break.” There is no handshaking, or any kind of intermingling with the other team before or after games. Many schools are allowing no spectators, however Timothy is allowing two guests of each player and coach to attend Timothy home games. It is basketball in a way we have never known it.
Sarah Carstensen captured the benefits of being back in the gym and playing basketball that go beyond practice and games, “Being back at practice boosted my physical, mental and emotional health and it made me feel like I was myself again.”
Our senior leaders have a deep appreciation for this short, jam-packed, season (15 games in 4 ½ weeks). The three captains agree that they are not taking anything for granted, they are working as hard as they can at each practice and executing during games. They want to set an example for the underclassman of hard work, and playing with all the passion you can realizing that this season is a gift that they thought they might not receive.
This basketball season is a great metaphor for the Christian faith. When life gets dark, when things seem to be working against you that you cannot control, when the whole world might be saying, there is no way, “There is always hope.”