ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The Jennings High School Warriors stepped onto the court for a competitive game for the first time since the COVID pandemic first hit the region last year.
“This is our first sport, so not only our first game, but our first sport to actually be on the court,” Jennings School District Superintendent Art McCoy said. “We opted out of football, we opted out of all sports and waited until we had better knowledge about how to do this safely.”
“Us activity and athletic directors growing up we know what sports brought into our life, for these kids to not have that opportunity is bad,” Gregg Cleveland, activities director at Eureka High School, said.
Ferguson-Florissant, Ritenour, and Hazelwood school districts are also returning to practices or games this week.
The varsity team lost their matchup against Eureka Wildcats 61-52. Their junior varsity team also played against the wildcats, but Eureka’s freshman team is out because of COVID-19.
“We couldn’t wait one day longer for our students to get back into a routine and it helps our kids get drafted college it helps them to get back into a healthier shape,” McCoy said.
Students in the Eureka School District have been playing since winter sports started, but Thursday night was the first-time spectators were allowed inside the gym to watch on the home court since the pandemic. Each student gets two spectator tickets. Each guest is asked to check-in using a QR code in case they need to contact them for any contact tracing purposes.
“It’s their responsibility to make sure they are healthy coming in, then they scan in so if they have any issues, we can contact trace them that way,” Cleveland said.
David Seymour’s daughter is a cheerleader on the Eureka squad. He said he is just happy to watch his student back in action again.
“It’s a little more of an inconvenient, got to get here a little bit early, but other than that, I just want to be here, so whatever it takes to get to a game, me and my wife will do whatever it takes,” he said.
Across the river, Republican Illinois Representative Darin LaHood wrote a letter to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker asking him to reverse the decision and allowe students to return to sports in the state.
“Governor Pritzker is crushing the dreams of these kids. Now, one year may not seem like a long time,” he said. “But one year to a sophomore, junior, senior is a lifetime. “