Football in the Age of COVID
By: Seth Kuntz
The Williamsville Bullets football team took the field yesterday for the first time in 477 days. The Bullets, who won the class 3A state championship last year, defeated the DuQuoin Indians 64-20. It was the first time that anything in the last year felt somewhat normal. Although the game was on a Saturday afternoon in March, athletes got the chance to take the field and show their talents. As we pass the one year mark of the COVID-19 shutdown, we can reflect on the fight to get sports back in Illinois.
Last March, we were told that we would have a two week shutdown to flatten the curve. That two week shutdown turned into a month, then six months, and then a whole year. Illinois student-athletes were sidelined while athletes in states around us were able to have their seasons. This caused an uproar among students across the state. The coaches, players, and parents decided to use their voices to try to make change.
Their first step was a “Let Us Play” rally that took place at the Capitol in Springfield and in three places in Chicago. People showed up, but not in the numbers that many had expected. The situation continued to look dismal, and student athletes were extremely disappointed as months went by. In desperation, Wade Jostes, senior quarterback of the Maroa-Forsyth Trojans, and his father Josh Jostes, head coach of the Maroa-Forsyth Trojans, began the “Hear Our Voice Illinois” campaign. Their videos of local athletes pleading to the Governor and other leaders swept through the state like a wildfire. Their efforts finally paid off, and the sports seasons finally started.
After yesterday’s victory in DuQuoin, I got the chance to talk to head coach Aaron Kunz. He said, “It just feels great that we are able to be playing football again. It is even better that I get six weeks to see these guys do what they love.” This message was echoed by Williamsville’s senior quarterback, Connor McCormick. The Bullets will play the New Berlin Pretzels for their second game of this irregular season.