PEORIA — The IHSA says it is game on -- make that more games on -- for high school teams sorting through the competition rules and regulations amid a pandemic.
Change is good, albeit often in the COVID-19 era.
The IHSA has lifted its competition restrictions that limited winter, spring and summer sports to two games per week, rolling back to normal schedule limits.
And the summer season, which involves baseball, softball, boys track and field, girls soccer, boys volleyball, lacrosse and boys tennis, can begin practices and games two weeks earlier than previously announced.
For now, anyway.
"We were limited to two matches per week," Dunlap volleyball head coach and Central Illinois Elite Volleyball Club director Jennifer Bartlett said. "I think adding back a significant number of matches would be very doable for us. But that will be up to our school officials. Do we add matches and then there's going to be another change later?
"I'm not looking at it too much. It's like every day they change something. For the longest time I had to wait to see if there was going to be a season.
"I don't know what's going to happen next. None of us do. I'm done with worrying about it.
"This IHSA adjustment is a positive thing, but as always, the key word is 'If.' "
That was somewhat echoed by Peoria High girls basketball head coach Meechie Edwards.
"Things change so rapidly with this pandemic," he said. "It's been a rollercoaster. But I'm excited to get these changes. We just don't know what's next. It might change again next week. So we're just going to do what we can.
"We have six or seven freshman coming into the team, good players. But those freshman didn't have summer development because of COVID shutdowns, and that will be difficult for them. More games will certainly be important for them. We have a chance to be really, really good."
Lewistown softball coach Joey McLaughlin sees the two weeks added as dodging what felt like a repeat of last season's COVID shutdown as the IHSA's initial plan struggled to jam in multiple sports into its 2020 summer lineup.
"That's one thing that I will say that I was happy with to get the extra two weeks, considering we were shorted an entire season last year and then (the IHSA was) going to try and short our season again this year," he said. "I was happy with those two weeks."
As for summer sports, the original COVID-adjusted competition plan was for first practices on May 3 and first contests on May 17.
That has been moved ahead now to April 19 and May 3, respectively.
It's a chance for kids to play more games, especially in baseball and softball.
"It's a great benefit," said Notre Dame baseball coach Cory Birdoes. "Basically what it does, it allows us to have somewhat of a season, develop players, see players, give them at-bats, things that they missed out on the last couple of years.
"Adding games isn't going to hurt."
And what about the overlap of spring and summer sports?
"I'd rather have my kids play other sports anyway," Birdoes said. "It just makes them a better athlete."
It could, however, be a challenge for coaches.
"For my own personal reasons, I'm still trying to wrap playing in June around my brain," Farmington softball coach Jeni Fauser said. "I don't want to go through like last year where the seniors didn't get to play, so I'm glad there's a season.
"There's still a lot of sacrifices being made by coaches and players to do this.
"We share a lot of the athletes. I'm afraid some kids will just think, 'If (softball) is not my No. 1 sport, do I really want to go into something else?' Especially if they've played basketball, volleyball, then boom (softball)."
The extra two weeks and the lift of weekly competition limits should help track and field, too. But is it too little, too late?
"I think it is great to give the kids a chance to possibly compete in more meets and this may give us a chance at having a state series," Richwoods boys track and field coach Roland Brown said. "I think we are in a bit of a tough situation with half the season being conducted when school is not in session, I would guess numbers will be affected.
"Most of us will probably be doing some type of pre-season training before April any way."
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.