This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.
In May 2020, Coach Nicole Lincoln of Rush Athletics USA – Team Illinois USA sprang into action with her dedicated coaching staff to plan their summer track and field program. The goal of their planning was to recognize and understand the health and safety risk, guidelines, policies, and procedures established related to COVID-19 in order to provide training/practices and competitions as directed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Restore Illinois Framework, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity- IL (DCEO), American Medical Association (AMA), Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA), Illinois High School Association (IHSA), National Federation of High Schools (NFHS), Amatuer Athletics Union (AAU), and United States of America Track and Field (USATF) guidelines.
After 8 weeks of stay-at-home orders (April 2020 to May 2020), Coach Lincoln knew children would need opportunities for physical activity and socialization, which are particularly lacking during this pandemic. With her coaching staff, Coach Lincoln developed guidelines, protocols, and procedures which lead to a successful summer of track and field.
“We were the first track organization in Illinois to begin training athletes June 1st. A lot of preparation, planning, and training happened prior to the first practice. We hosted Zoom meetings with parents and athletes to discuss risks, new guidelines, procedures, and protocols related to Covid-19. We had zoom training classes and even a test on these new Covid-related changes that our coaches needed to attend and pass. We color-coordinated our training groups to keep kids from mingling with other groups. We even integrated pre-workout screenings. The planning and training we all participated in was the foundation that lead to our successful summer program in the midst of this pandemic,” stated Coach Lincoln.
During Phase 3: Restore Illinois, Rush Athletics USA had approximately 50 athletes join their summer program. These athletes were placed into groups of 10 (color coordinated groups) and assigned a coach for training in distance, jumps, throws, and sprints. Pre-workout screening and temperature checks were performed daily before practice with no athletes allowed in the practice area unless cleared through screening. Athletes and coaches wore face coverings (unless training) and maintained 6 ft. distancing. Signs were posted in the practice area reminding all to follow the Covid-19 guidelines. In addition, athletes were required to use hand sanitizer frequently and stay home if feeling sick.
“With everyone understanding that we are at risk of exposure and spread of Covid-19, we took a number of actions to help lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure and reduce the spread during our training/ practices and competition. We had help from one of our coaches who is an EMT and essential worker. The advice and guidance in understanding the ever changing guidelines we received from her have been instrumental in our organization being able to provide a safe training environment for our coaches and athletes,” Coach Lincoln attested.
“Parents and their children are looking for a way to do something — a way to be active. They are looking for organizations who have done their due diligence in putting safety protocols in place. We have a proven track record for providing a safe training environment for our athletes. We can attest to this proven record by the success of our summer program we ran during this pandemic,” shared Coach Gerald Houston, newly named Director and Head Coach of Rush Athletics USA Cross Country Program.
Fall 2020, Rush Athletics USA is preparing to host three programs: Cross Country, Track & Field Off-Season Training, and Football Camps. These programs will run until November 2020 and are hosted outdoors. Cross Country is for ages 7 and up practicing on Mondays-Tuesdays-Thursdays with two practice locations: Oswego and Country Club Hills. Track and Field is for ages 7 and up training on Sundays in Plainfield and Wednesdays in Richton Park. Football Camp is for ages 6 and up held on Sundays-Tuesdays-Thursdays in Plainfield. Rush Athletics USA will continue to take the necessary action to help lower the risk of Covid-19 exposure and reduce its spread.
Coach Lincoln adds, “It is sad to see many schools opting out of fall sports. We now have thousands of youths looking for alternatives ways to continue their sport or training this fall. We are excited to host three youth sports programs to give youths a way to be active. If parents are looking for their child to run or jump or even learn the basics of football, registration is now open for our fall programs. Please be aware that there are limited spots due to restrictions and guidelines set by the governor.”
Rush Athletics USA has operated its youth programs in Plainfield and many other Chicago metropolitan suburbs for over 8 years. It offers year-round programming for youth runners/track & field and seasonal camps for volleyball, cheer, and football. Rush Athletics USA was named the 2018 AAU National Club of the Year. Please visit ilrushclub.org for more information on its programs. You can also contact Coach Nicole Lincoln at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 815-556-9650.
The views expressed in this post are the author’s own. Want to post on Patch?