RTHS athletic programs adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions

Fall, winter teams using social media, virtual workouts to connect coaches with students


ROCHELLE — With COVID-19 restrictions and the IHSA summer contact suspension in mind, fall and winter athletic programs at Rochelle Township High School are making adjustments to their usual summer activities as coaches continue to wait for future updates.

While their seasons are several months away, Rochelle’s boys and girls basketball programs typically compete in summer leagues, and the teams normally host summer camps for high-schoolers and youth players. However, the summer contact suspension and the continue closure of schools has forced RTHS coaches Tim Thompson and Tony Rowan to prepare their players from a distance, using virtual workouts and social media to stay in contact.

“We reach out to the kids to give them words of encouragement,” Thompson said. “We also remind them they can be outworking their opponents by shooting, lifting and running on their own. We are encouraging the kids to be safe. At this time, we’re in a play-it-by-ear state.”

“Our workouts are going to be posted online and I will be doing a video conference with the kids once a week so I can check in with them,” Rowan said. “Each player’s development will truly be based on the work each player puts in with these restrictions in place.”

Rochelle’s volleyball and tennis programs are also changing course with their respective summer activities. The contact suspension could prevent the volleyball team from hosting its summer camps or playing any summer league matches, while the tennis team’s open-court availability and annual summer tournament may be impacted as well.

“Social media has been our best friend,” head volleyball coach Molly Sly said. “Post-workout selfies and encouraging messages have motivated us. We are in our first week of workouts and we plan to do more videos and meetings through the Google classroom platform… Information has also been posted to our Facebook page, Rochelle Vball, and any players interested in being a part of our program can join the Google classroom or email me at msly@rthsd212.org.

“We plan on posting to our RTHS Tennis Facebook page for updates and I will be texting the girls throughout the summer via the Remind Me app,” head girls tennis coach Lizzie Cartwright said. “We want the kids to stay active and be as safe as possible with everything going on.”

Rochelle’s boys and girls soccer programs may see their annual summer conditioning workouts canceled or limited due to the contact suspension. Additionally, current social distancing and DCEO guidelines could make summer activities difficult for the Rochelle golf program. On the other hand, Rochelle’s boys and girls cross country programs may not be affected as much, mainly because student-athletes normally complete summer training regimens on their own.

“I will contact all the student-athletes who were on the team last season, as well as our incoming freshmen, and set up training plans for them,” head cross country coach Mark Zilis said. “They will have to work out on their own and comply with current rules. The athletes will report to me each week. Summer training is essential for a successful fall season, and we are going to train under the assumption there will be a fall sports season.”