VHHS athletes have first ever contact days


Andrew Tikhonov (11) picks a ball up with his foot at practice. (Photo courtesy of Tyler Svrusis.)

IHSA has allowed sports to have contact days, in which athletes are permitted to have coached practices outside of their designated season, due to the challenges COVID-19 has brought athletes. Many VHHS sports teams are having contact days this fall. 

“The IHSA, in a normal year, does not allow our coaches to actually coach their kids during the school year, except during their actual IHSA season,” Mr. Brian McDonald, the athletic director at VHHS, stated. 

Designed like a normal practice, athletes are allowed to practice with their teammates and get coached to make up for lost time.

Woojin Lee (11), one of many lacrosse players that have been attending the contact days three days a week, described his experience with contact days for Boys Lacrosse.

“Since lacrosse is a high risk sport as said by the school, we usually just do passing and shooting drills, but we don’t have any contact,” Lee said.  

Although athletes are allowed to have a practice that would resemble one during the season, COVID-19 has altered the training of many athletes participating in contact sports. 

“It’s fun to finally get out and practice with your team again,” said Lee, “But, it’s not the same when you can’t scrimmage with your fellow teammates.” 

Ryan Kim (12), a Track and Field hurdler, agreed on the fact that contact days are a fun break. 

“It’s fun, especially since we’re stuck at home for a majority of the day. Going out and playing sports that I like… it’s enjoyable,” said Kim.

Fall contact days have been a great way for athletes to physically see their classmates after a long day of remote learning, but there is still the peer connection that athletes are missing. 

Although the whole point of contact days is for athletes to get coaching outside of their IHSA season, Kim commented on how that’s not completely true for track and field athletes.

“There’s a lot less people for starters, so usually I’m with a couple other people in my group, but on the contact days it’s just me… coach access is also very limited,” Kim mentioned.

Kim’s track practices used to be packed, but due to safety concerns because of COVID-19, the practice size has significantly decreased. Instead of practicing with the rest of his group, Kim is forced to practice on his own. On top of that, since the track is such a large space, access to his coach was limited during contact days, which was the opposite of what was supposed to happen. 

Tennis player Andrew Tikhonov (11) also mentioned some adaptations the Boys Tennis team had to make for contact days. 

“One of the big things this year is that we can’t touch the tennis balls, so you have to pick up the tennis balls with your foot and your racket,” Tikhonov said. 

Since sharing tennis balls could spread germs amongst the entire tennis team, if they are practicing a skill that requires them to touch the balls, they must wear gloves to protect themselves and everyone else. 

Tikhonov was one of the athletes that unfortunately lost his sports season in the spring due to COVID-19.

“[Contact days have] been really good and beneficial, particularly because we didn’t have a season. So it kind of helped to make up for that,” said Tikhonov.

Overall, contact days have helped athletes make the most of this unique time of uncertainty and allowed them to have some fun after school. Although contact days don’t make up for a missed season, VHHS athletes have been able to adapt and safely attend these practices.